The forests of Canada are home to a wide range of animals, from the wood bison, the largest mammal on the North American continent, to the pygmy shrew, the smallest. Other residents of Canadian woodlands are moose, wolves, caribou, bears, rodents, rabbits, lynx, minx and some 450 species of bird. Canada’s bird population is the most dynamic of its forest wildlife with up to five billion birds flying south and returning north every year.
The Woodland Caribou
- There are 1.8 million caribou in Canada, divided among four ecotypes, including Woodland caribou.
- Woodland caribou have been classified as “at risk” across Canada, largely because of habitat loss or fragmentation caused by human development. The National Boreal Caribou Technical Steering Committee, with representatives from across Canada, is collaboratively developing a National Caribou Recovery Strategy.
- In regions with caribou populations, land, resource and forest management plans identify areas where harvesting is allowed and the best methods to maintain caribou habitat.
- Research shows it is better to log a few large patches rather than many smaller ones so there are fewer roads, less habitat and landscape fragmentation, the site is less attractive to moose and deer that draw predators, and the area more closely resembles caribou habitat when it grows back in 50 to 150 years.
- Woodland caribou favor large tracts of contiguous mature and old-growth coniferous forests that have large quantities of terrestrial and arboreal (tree-inhabiting) lichens and where human disturbance is limited.
Many factors, such as habitat loss due to agriculture, can lead to a declining caribou population. Habitat and landscape fragmentation due to harvesting, roads, pipelines, transmission corridors or other developments also have the same effect.
Forest management practices consider the specific needs of different caribou populations across Canada, and most forest companies operating in caribou habitat have some form of access management to limit the effects of humans and predators on caribou.