Feds extend comment period for caribou habitat
Citing requests from Idaho’s governor, local governments and the Kootenai 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.