Caribou collaring training happens again

Ministry of Natural Resources staff from Thunder Bay District have been preparing for a woodland caribou collaring project later this winter.
Training took place this past Tuesday at Squaw Bay.
“This was great practice for caribou collaring, which will take place on the west shore of Lake Nipigon near Vooges Lake in the Black Sturgeon Forest sometime in late February or early March,” said Rick Gollat, a biologist with the MNR’s Thunder Bay District.
One of the more successful methods that has been used to capture caribou is the use of a net gun fired from a helicopter. When a caribou is captured, an MNR staff member will immediately exit from a hovering helicopter to restrain and collar it.
Then, the caribou will be carefully and safely released back to the wild.
In training, MNR staff used a helicopter and a snowmobile dragging an inner tube, which acted as a surrogate caribou.
A biologist in the helicopter shot the net at the moving inner tube while another member practised exiting the helicopter hovering above the ground.
The annual winter training allows staff to practice collaring techniques in a safe environment.
It provides staff with skills to capture caribou in a manner that ensures their own safety and that of the caribou, while also helping to minimize the amount of time the caribou is restrained.
The satellite collaring procedure provides the MNR with information about the animal’s location, habitat, movement patterns, and mortality.
The information is used to gain a better understanding of woodland caribou use of the boreal forest, and assists in developing management recommendations to ensure caribou habitat needs are met in areas undergoing forestry operations.