Capturing Wild Caribou in Tahltan Territory
CAPTURING WILD CARIBOU IN TAHLTAN TERRITORY
"About four years ago, I started chatting over email with Conrad Theissen, a wildlife biologist based in Smithers, B.C., about shooting photos of a unique conservation project: GPS collaring northern mountain caribou to gather data about the at-risk Tseneglode herd. Conrad eventually lined up an opportunity, but the project was postponed as COVID took hold. In October 2020, the stars finally aligned. The Tahltan First Nation hosted me and my good friend, writer Malcolm Johnson, to join the Tahltan Guardians—as well as Conrad and another government scientist, Oliver Holt—for a few days of caribou captures in the Dease Lake area. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into until I arrived and saw the work first-hand—from finding and capturing caribou in remote terrain to taking hair and blood samples from these large, wild animals. The practice no longer uses tranquilizer darts but nets instead, as they've been found to be a safer way to capture, collar, sample and release as quickly as possible. Through our days in Tahltan territory, I learned a lot about the importance of informed wildlife management, and how the Tahtlan people (who have been practicing wildlife and environmental management for thousands of years, of course) and the B.C. government are working together to monitor the health of the herds. In freezing temperatures and vast landscapes, with some of the most skilled helicopter piloting I’ve ever experienced, we tracked the wild Tseneglode caribou and documented the process from start to finish."
Check the link to read Malcolm's - BACKCOUNTRY RODEO article for The Narwhal