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) and is still expecting to see large strides towards caribou protection this fall!
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?
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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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