Skip to main content

Relocated Lake Superior caribou doing well, scientist says

Jan 27, 2018 09:42AM ● Published by Editor

A caribou is released after being moved by helicopter. (Supplied/MNRF)

Government crews relocated endangered Lake Superior caribou earlier this month. From CBC News onJanuary 27, 2018.

A lot of logistics and planning goes into any move, but a northern Ontario scientist recently took that that planning to a whole new level.

Recently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry relocated caribou from Michipicoten Island to Slate Islands, by helicopter.

Art Rodgers, a research scientist with the ministry, was in charge of developing the protocol to move the animals and coordinate everyone involved.

"I had not been involved in relocation of animals before," he told CBC.

"We really haven't done too much of that in Ontario in the past."

The caribou were moved as wolves had made their way over to the island and the population of caribou was declining as a result.

Rodgers says he contacted other provinces for advice on the move. He says he eventually organized several groups of people to work on the project, including a wildlife capture company, ministry aircraft staff, a transport aircraft and veterinarians.

Travel and weather

He says getting to the islands was the first challenge.

"Lake Superior kind of makes his own weather," he said. "Getting to these islands is sometimes quite difficult."

Once the crews got to the island, they found the caribou, encouraged them to move to an open area and captured them with a net gun from a helicopter.

From there, the animals were restrained and blindfolded and earplugs were put in to relax the animals.

Crews recently moved caribou from one island to another in Lake Superior. (Supplied/MNRF)

"The next step … is veterinarians would apply a mild sedative to calm the animal down further," he said.

"Once you get the blindfold on, it's a little bit like a horse. They tend to settle down. As long as there's not too much noise going on around them, they really do calm down quite quickly."

He says the sedative is given as the animals were moved by air in the helicopter after being placed into a special bag. Rogers says that took about 45 to 60 minutes to move the animals from one island to the other.

Monitoring the animals

"During that trip, we had two veterinarians on board and myself, and we were monitoring the animals all the way, measuring respiration rates, heart rates and body temperature," he said.

"And making sure they didn't come around while they were inside the helicopter, and we didn't have any of that happen either."

Once they land, the caribou were moved outside, released from the bags and given a reversal of the sedative which takes about five minutes to kick in. Rodgers says they stuck around to make sure the caribou wandered away safely.

"Historically, Slate Islands have supported a caribou population up into the hundreds," he said.

"We expect their survival will be very good. We outfitted all of the females with GPS collars and we're checking their movement and activity everyday to make sure that everything is good."

Outdoors
  • The 100DayProject

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Join us at Harbor House Grille, featuring Chef prepared handcrafted meals. Today's specials inclu...


  • MOVE IT!

    02/22/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • Free tax help for low to moderate income folks in Cook County! Bring your tax information with ...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/22/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Open Face Roast Beef/Mash Potato/Beets/Fruit/Milk


  • Snowmobilers! Ride Lutsen Trails With Us

    02/22/2018
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    Join us to ride the trails with us. We meet at the snowmobile parking lot at 466 Caribou Trail [...


  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    02/22/2018
    06:30PM

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and ho...


  • Film Night at North House

    02/22/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Winter Series returns every Thursday in February at North House with film nights. We’ll revisit f...


  • Terra Bella Floral hours

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • The 100DayProject

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Come join us at Harbor House Grille, featuring chef prepared, handcrafted food. Today's specials ...


  • MOVE IT!

    02/23/2018
    12:00AM

    MOVE IT is about moving towards good health in lots of ways, including being physically active. ...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/23/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Chicken Chowmein/Rice/Mixed Vegetable/Dessert/Milk


  • Taste of Winter Potluck and Seed Discussion

    02/23/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    There will be a ‘Taste of Winter’ Potluck and seed discussion on Friday, February 23 at 5:30 p.m....


  • Friday Night Reels

    02/23/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Friday nights from January 5 to March 9, the library is transformed into a Free-Admission movie t...


  • Annual Beer Lover's Dinner

    02/23/2018
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    We are now taking reservations for our annual Beer Lover’s Dinner, which will take place on Frida...


Lake Superior Ice Coverage Map. Click on map to enlarge. [GLERL Ice Concentration for Lake Superior]

Weather Alerts Provided by Willy Weather