EatWild 54 - Caribou Management with Biologist Conrad Thiessen
We are kicking off a series of podcasts with a focus on learning more about big game species in BC and how they are managed to ensure sustainable wildlife populations and hunting opportunities.
In the first episode, I am pleased to welcome wildlife biologist Conrad Thiessen. Conrad has a very cool job in the Northwest corner of BC (Region 6). This is an area of relatively low road density and high wilderness and wildlife values, so he spends his workdays flying around in a helicopter, in spectacular wilderness areas, counting wildlife.
Conrad's work is focused on caribou management, so we dive into the topic of caribou, discuss ecotypes, their range, habitat, migration patterns, population status in BC, and methods to assess herd health and numbers. Conrad describes survey and calculation methods, as well as the opportunity to work with First Nations on research projects.
He introduces and explains concepts like “calf recruitment”, the ideal calf/cow ratio, and shares details about the delicate and exciting process of “netting caribou” for the purpose of fitting them with research collars.
Of course, we get to talk about caribou behaviour, hunting experiences and the ideal time to hunt caribou for optimal taste.
We reflect on the impacts of human activity, climate change and predation on caribou population dynamics and Conrad reveals an unlikely, yet successful caribou predator, besides wolves and bears.
Give this episode a listen if you are interested in caribou biology, conservation or hunting and you will find a few other exciting details about the life of caribou and wildlife biologists in Region 6.
To keep an eye on Conrad and his adventures in an “unbelievably, indescribably” beautiful place, follow him on Instagram @conrad_thiessen.
Poster photo credit: Clint Walker
This episode is dedicated to Dr. Valerius Geist, wildlife biologist, conservationist, great storyteller, and kind human. You will be missed by the conservation community.
At some point in the podcast I mention that Jody, the hunting camp cook, will not use cook with caribou meat that is harvested in late September. The intention was to suggest that the meat may have a gamey taste, and may not be as pleasant as the other meat options. In Jody's case, she may choose to use the moose or sheep meat that would also be available in a hunting camp to make dinner. The caribou hunters are required to take all edible portions of the meat home and it will be consumed, just with a bit more spice if it happens to be gamey.
The EatWild podcast provides mentorship to folks who want to learn how to hunt, fish, and gather wild food.
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