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Caribou Program Update: Summer 2017 Field Work #5

Chinchaga: Shifts 5 and 6 

Adam Sprott

August 8–31

For August we changed tack and followed a different protocol. We undertook the long drive to Fort St John and the Charlie Lake RV Park. We were beginning our work on the linear feature protocol and looking at pipelines in the range of the Chinchaga herd. We put in some long hours in the trucks as we looked for sites accessible to humans and compared how the lines were regrowing and looked for signs of wildlife use.

From the park we headed a further two hours north to a little place known as Peejay and began our surveys. Starting off in the southern part of the range we moved from hay fields and cow pastures deeper into the wildland and well-pads where we encountered the famous “Chin Mud”—the type that helps you grow a few inches as you walk from one end of the truck to the other.

Things became rather exciting as our forays pressed further into the Chin. We began to see more and more signs of wildlife—everything from elk and moose to bears and wolves, but most excitingly, caribou! We saw tracks along the road and mud of little ponds, and often found scat. We knew they were in the area.

Finally, on the last days of the last shift, we saw them. Adam and Mackenzie ran into a gorgeous male in winter colours at the end of Pickell Road, and Marlene and Ashley watched an adorable baby calf on Ladyfern Road. After a whole summer of looking at their habitat, it was a phenomenal reward for both teams to see our study species and the best way to bring a fantastic season to an end.

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