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Idaho's Conservation Experiment: 50 Years Later explores the history and future of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

With No Wild Caribou Left In Idaho, Environmental Groups Push To Get Feds To Act

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Wild caribou numbers have been declining in recent decades.

Caribou used to be found in the wilds of old growth forests in the Idaho panhandle. The population would often cross state lines into Washington. Now, there are zero caribou roaming free in the lower 48.


“We were down to maybe 10 or 20 animals when they took those animals into captivity to breed them,” says Andrea Santasiere with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Her group is one of three that has filed an intention to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect what’s known as the Selkirk herd. She says the federal agency was working toward protecting 375,000 acres of caribou habitat. 

“They started that process and came to 2016 and they just stopped in their tracks.”

She says the goal of the lawsuit is to force the agency to follow through with protections for the herd.

When reached for comment, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson says the agency does not comment on pending litigation. 

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.