Last caribou herd in Lower 48 ‘functionally extinct’

Recent aerial surveys indicate that efforts to save the sole caribou herd in the Lower 48 have failed.

Just three of the so-called gray ghosts remain in the southern mountain caribou herd, making it “functionally extinct,” according to experts.

The herd spends part of its time in northern Idaho’s Selkirk Mountains and Washington state, near the Canadian border. It had about 50 animals in 2009.

Officials started killing wolves to try to revive the herd, but that failed.

Experts blame the falling numbers on industrial development in British Columbia.

“The functional loss of this herd is the legacy of decades of government mismanagement across caribou range,” said Mark Hebblewhite, a wildlife biologist at the University of Montana.

Logging, oil and gas development, mining, road construction, and unsustainable recreation are reasons for the decline, according to Hebblewhite.

— Greenwire

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