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Caribou habitat comment period extended; Bonners Ferry meeting set

Selkirk Mountains woodland caribou are protected under the Endangered Species Act. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Selkirk Mountains woodland caribou are protected under the Endangered Species Act. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- Citing requests from Idaho’s governor, local governments and the Kootenay Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a 60-day extension for public comment on a proposal to designate critical habitat for woodland caribou in the Selkirk Mountains.

The federal agency made the announcement this morning along with scheduling a public hearing on the proposal for April 28 in Bonners Ferry.

The woodland caribou that range from North Idaho and a sliver of northeastern Washington north into British Columbia are listed as an endangered species.

Federal biologists have proposed designating 375,565 acres of high-elevation critical habitat in Idaho and Washington for the caribou. They say the designation would have little impact on protections that already are in place.

Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and Boundary County officials asked for an extension to the comment period that was announced in November as well as additional opportunities for citizens to participate in public processes regarding the proposal, FWS officials said.

“We recognize the public’s interest in this issue and will work together to help citizens fully understand our proposal to designate critical habitat for caribou,” said Brian Kelly, the Service’s State Supervisor for Idaho.

FWS is re-opening the public comment period on the caribou proposal until May 21, 2012.

Read on for more details about the proposal and the public meeting in Bonners Ferry.

An information meeting is set for April 28 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Bonners Ferry High School, 6485 Tamarack Lane.

After a break, a federal officials will reconvene for a hearing to take public comment on the habitat proposal from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Submit online comments on the caribou proposal here.

  • In the Keyword box, enter Docket No.[FWS–R1-ES-2011-0096].
  • Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document.
  • Submit a comment by clicking on “Send a Comment or Submission.”

Read the action Bonner County Commissioners are taking against the caribou habitat proposal

Read the S-R story on regional reaction to the caribou habitat proposal.

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Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.