WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to protect 375,562 acres in northern Idaho and eastern Washington as critical habitat of the endangered southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou.
The deer’s survival depends on its ability to spread out over large areas of suitable habitat to avoid predators, according to the USFWS. The proposed acreage will knit together suitable areas and place special forest management restrictions on the deer’s old-growth forest habitat.
The approximately 35 woodland caribou that still inhabit the Selkirk Mountains are picky eaters, preferring to forage on arboreal lichen, which grows on trees. The agency says it takes 80 to 150 years for a forest to grow enough lichens for caribou.