Caribou Struggling in Alberta

CPAWS Northern Alberta Releases First of Three Reports Looking at Conservation Measures for Alberta's Herds

EDMONTON – Today, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Northern Alberta chapter publicly releases the first of 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.

Alison Ronson, executive director of CPAWS Northern Alberta, states, “under federal species at risk legislation, Alberta is obligated to craft plans for our caribou that ensure that 65% of each range is classified as 'undisturbed.' Currently, Alberta's caribou habitat ranges from 60 to 98% disturbed, with most of that disturbance caused by human impacts such as oil and gas extraction and forestry, so we have a long way to go.” Ms. Ronson will be presenting on the report at the 16th North American Caribou Workshop being held this week in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Caribou are listed on the federal Species At Risk Act as a “threatened” species, and in 2014 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (“COSEWIC”) recommended that boreal woodland caribou be downgraded to “endangered.” It is estimated that if business continues as usual in Alberta, our caribou will be extirpated (lost from our landscape) in 50 years. The province of Alberta has until October of 2017 to craft range plans for all herds that bring each range up to 65% undisturbed.

The first report can be found here.

Media contact

Alison Ronson
Executive Director
(780) 424.5128, ext. 309
[email protected]