The Mountain Caribou Initiative is a team of wildlife trackers, photographers and filmmakers collaborating to tell the dramatic story of the crumbling world of mountain caribou in western Canada and the northwestern United States. Mountain caribou serve as a “canary in the coal mine”, their continued decline reflecting pressure from human resource extraction, recreation activities, and climate change on the remote and beautiful landscapes that these majestic caribou call home.
The goal of the Mountain Caribou Initiative is to raise awareness of the plight of these elusive animals, the threats facing the largest inland temperate rainforest in the world and the complexity of wildlife conservation in the 21st century. Through both field expeditions into the wildest corners of the Selkirk, Columbia and Rocky mountains, and collaboration with leading mountain caribou biologist and conservation groups, we are producing a wide range of visual media, written articles and educational experiences. Much of this content will be accessible to the public for free. Please help us create these powerful educational tools, and support our campaign to raise awareness for the endangered mountain caribou.
Who are the Mountain Caribou?
Mountain caribou are a distinct ecotype of caribou. They are unique to the Inland Temperate Rainforest and Columbia Mountains of British Columbia and northern Washington and Idaho in the United States. Mountain caribou are the southernmost caribou in western North America and are highly dependent on old growth forests where centuries-old trees are not uncommon. Mountain caribou have adapted to a harsh environment in ways that no other animal can.
Why are Mountain Caribou Endangered?
While these creatures are rugged and resilient, they are not invulnerable to the pressure of myriad human activities on their habitat. Industrial logging, habitat fragmentation, changes in predator-prey dynamics caused by human uses of the landscape, and winter recreation in their high mountain winter home are among the leading stressors.
We aim to illuminate the complexity of the relationship between mountain caribou and humans, and investigate our impacts on the ecosystem they call home and that we depend on for lumber, clean water, hydropower, and a stable global climate. Less than 20 caribou remain in the last herd that crosses back and forth between the United States and Canada. The total population of mountain caribou is estimated at less than 1500 across all of British Columbia.
Project Goals & Outcomes
The primary goal of the Mountain Caribou Initiative is to provide a window into the imperiled world of mountain caribou and to inspire a broader public engagement with conservation. We are telling this compelling story through both visual media productions and educational experiences.
- Films: a feature documentary and educational short films
- Articles and photo essays: presented in widely distributed international publications
- Support existing conservation efforts: assist research & provide content for nonprofit partners
- Social media outreach: raise awareness directly through grassroots campaign
- Public presentations: educational slideshows to raise local awareness
- Educational expedition: a field experience for the public to learn first hand about the world of mountain caribou
Completion Dates: Productions of the Mountain Caribou Initiative have a range of completion dates. The film productions will be released on a rolling basis with our feature short ready in the winter of 2017 for select screenings. All production will be completed by spring 2017.
Expeditions & Research
The Mountain Caribou Initiative team began research expeditions to the communities and remote reaches of the Selkirk, Columbia and Rocky mountains in British Columbia and Alberta in the summer of 2015. Our field research will continue into the fall of 2016.
Our expedition goals include:
- Capturing photographs and film of mountain caribou in the wild
- Documenting human activities and their impact on mountain caribou and the globally unique ecosystem they call home
- Field observations of mountain caribou behavior and their complex season migration patterns
- Interviewing biologists and experts on mountain caribou conservation, as well as stakeholder groups from the public with vested interest in this story
- Observing conservation efforts including captive calving programs
- Exploring the complexity of wildlife conservation in the 21st century
- Creating community conversations inside and out of mountain caribou country that focus on the challenges we face in caring for both our human communities and the ecosystems they depend on
Meet The Team
The Mountain Caribou Initiative is a collaborative team of creatives, wildlife biologists and trackers.
David Moskowitz - is the team leader of the Mountain Caribou Initiative. He is a biologist and the author of two books, Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest and Wolves in the Land of Salmon. David has contributed his technical expertise to a wide variety of wildlife studies regionally and in the Canadian and U.S. Rocky mountains, focusing on using tracking and other non-invasive methods to study wildlife ecology and promote conservation. Learn more at davidmoskowitz.net
Marcus Reynerson - has worked in the fields of wilderness education and conservation for numerous organizations across the United States for the last fifteen years. He is certified as a Wildlife Tracking Specialist by Cybertracker Conservation. Marcus is currently the Lead Instructor for the Anake program at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA.
Kim Shelton - is an avid naturalist, fisherwoman, and wildlife tracker. She hails from both the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation in Northern Minnesota and the North Yorkshire Moors in the U.K. Kim is currently an instructor at Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, WA.
Colin Arisman - is an environmental and adventure filmmaker and the co-founder of Wild Confluence Films. His work has been shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, and has won numerous awards. Colin graduated from the Wilderness Awareness School and the University of Vermont, where he earned a Summa Cum Laude degree in Natural Resource Planning. Learn more at wildconfluence.com
The Mountain Caribou Initiative is grateful for the generous support we have already received from the following sponsors and supporters:
Where Will Your money Go?
Your funds will go directly to covering the cost of our research expeditions into mountain caribou country and the production of educational materials. Telling this vital story is expensive, and we need your help to bring it out of the mountains and into the living rooms, classrooms, board rooms, and halls of government where the future of the mountain caribou and their globally unique ecosystem will be decided. Your contribution through Kickstarter will support:
- Lodging & Food
- Field equipment and supplies
- Production and delivery of film & photo content
- Developing and delivering public presentations
- Creating and disseminating blog posts & social media content
While our primary goal is $25,000 for our Kickstarter campaign, our total project budget is $55,000--so we hope to not only meet but also exceed our Kickstarter goal!
How Kickstarter Works
The Mountain Caribou Initiative team members are volunteering their time on expeditions to research this story. Many people have been excited about this project and asked us how they can get involved —and we see Kickstarter as an answer. By supporting us here, you can engage with the Mountain Caribou Initiative as it unfolds, and make a difference for these animals and the amazing ecosystem they inhabit. We invite you to join us. Ask questions. Share stories. Donate. The mountain caribou are depending on us.
From Kickstarter: “Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. Backing a project is more than just giving someone money, it's supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world."
Risks and challenges
The Mountain Caribou Initiative is already well underway with over three months of time logged in the field, thousands of images recorded, and a social media presence already well established. David Moskowitz has a proven track record of success and accountability in leading professional conservation storytelling projects. The team are skilled in their fields and committed to the goals of this project. The most significant risk we face is the permanent disappearance of the magnificent mountain caribou from our planet.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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