Woodland Caribou populations are in serious decline in Alberta with crucial habitat areas experiencing development pressure. Scientific studies conclude that NO caribou herds in Alberta are self-sustaining. Alberta's caribou need protected areas, restoration, and better restrictions on industrial development.
Protect our northern Alberta Caribou Herds!
In 2016 the government of Alberta made huge strides towards protecting our Caribou from industrial development and habitat degradation. They announced that 1.8 million ha of new protected areas would be created in the North West of the province, and that range plans would be completed for woodland caribou. CPAWS celebrated this (read our press release here) yet they still haven't been protected!
In December 2017, the Government of Alberta released the Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan (the “Draft Plan”) for the 15 woodland caribou herds under provincial jurisdiction. In Alberta, we have 12 Boreal Woodland Caribou ranges, and 5 Southern Mountain Caribou Ranges. The Banff and Jasper Southern mountain caribou ranges fall under federal management and therefore are not included in Alberta’s Draft Plan. See CPAWS Northern Alberta Press Release.
After careful review of the draft plan, CPAWS Northern Alberta is disappointed that it fails to provide any range specific management plans. The Draft Plan outlines a number of management options that could be taken in each range, making this a plan for further planning, and providing little changes on the ground for caribou.
CPAWS Northern Alberta will participate in the further range specific planning for Alberta’s caribou that is coming in the next couple months.
CPAWS Northern Alberta encourages you to comment and provide feedback on this Draft Plan. There are opportunities to do so online. Send a letter, or attend one of these public engagement sessions in person!
• Whitecourt: February 20, 2018
• Edmonton: February 22, 2018
• Cold Lake: February 27, 2018
• Fort McMurray: March 1, 2018
• High Level: March 6, 2018
• Grande Prairie: March 08, 2018
CPAWS Main Concerns with the Draft Plan:
• The Draft Plan is a plan to plan further. Alberta’s caribou need action now, and the Draft Plan only outlines potential strategies rather than range specific detailed plans.
• CPAWS would like a protected area included in every caribou range.
• CPAWS Northern Alberta is encouraged to see conservation area considerations, which have minimal conflict with industry, detailed in the plan. These areas should be designated as Wildland Provincial Parks to protect caribou habitat from industrial destruction.
• A detailed plan must be created for each range to achieve and maintain a minimum of 65% undisturbed habitat including the restoration of all legacy human disturbances, restoration of other disturbances, and creating access management plans with caps on disturbance allowances within range. We are supportive of many of the strategies outlined in the plan, however, would like to stress that this Draft Plan in its current form is insufficient we encourage the creation of range specific plans as soon as possible.
• The range-specific plans should focus on habitat based measure first and foremost. We do not support a reliance on predator control, alternate prey control, or extreme measures such as penning of caribou.
About Woodland Caribou
The Woodland caribou are the large, shy cousin to the better-known reindeer and migratory tundra caribou, found in Canada’s northern boreal forest. Alberta is home to over 3000 caribou in 12 distinct populations.
Woodland Caribou in Alberta are on the verge of extinction. Due to industrial activity, very little intact habitat is left in Alberta that can sustain Woodland caribou populations. Destruction of their range has also made the caribou more vulnerable to wolves. The map to the right shows where Woodland caribou occur in Alberta and identifies the likelihood of each range to maintain a self-sustaining local population. Of the 13 populations remaining in the province, most are in decline and several are at immediate risk of extirpation.
The Alberta Wildlife Act designates Woodland caribou as a threatened species due to the decline in their distribution and their low numbers resulting from direct habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation.
Woodland caribou are an “umbrella species” - they're sensitive to disturbance, and thrive in intact forest. When Woodland caribou populations are healthy, chances are other species in the area are healthy too.
It has been five years since the federal government released the boreal woodland caribou recovery strategy under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The strategy developed a threshold of risk for managing caribou, and guides provinces to maintain or restore each caribou range so that at least 65 per cent of it is undisturbed, as caribou need undisturbed habitat to avoid predators and survive. The recovery strategy calls for range plans to be completed by October 2017that demonstrate the protection, maintenance and restoration of caribou habitat for each caribou herd.
To learn more:
Read CPAWS' 2nd Annual Caribou Report.
Read CPAWS' and the David Suzuki Foundation's report, Population Critical: How are Caribou Faring?
CPAWS advocates for the protection of caribou habitat and holds government accountable for relevant legislation responsibilities to implement species recovery plans.
CPAWS Northern Alberta is working to...
Additional Ways YOU Can Help?
Donate to save woodland caribou.
Sign the petition below.
Write a letter to your elected official asking for protected areas, restoration, and better management of industrial footprint.
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CPAWS Northern Alberta Releases Alberta's Caribou: A Guide to Range Planning
CPAWS Northern Alberta has released three reports illustrating on-the-ground status of and threats to Alberta's boreal woodland caribou.
The reports are the first of their kind in Alberta – the first publicly available, science-based assessment that illustrates where in Alberta's boreal forest conservation efforts, legislated protection, and immediate forest restoration need to occur in order to bring Alberta's caribou back from the brink.
“Alberta’s boreal caribou populations have been declining for decades and urgently need habitat protection and restoration to recover,” said Danielle Pendlebury, conservation planner with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “Unless action is taken immediately, we face the real threat of losing caribou from Alberta in our lifetime.”
CPAWS is encouraged to see the government moving forward on habitat planning for caribou, but stresses that any plans designed for caribou conservation must emphasize conservation and immediate forest restoration measures.
Read Volume 1 (Northeast Herds) here.
Read Volume 2 (Little Smoky Herd) here.
Read Volume 3 (Northwest Herds) here.
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