News / Calgary

No ‘concrete measures’ in Alberta, most of Canada, to protect caribou: CPAWS

Woodland caribou in Alberta and across the country are suffering from a lack of government action to protect their habitats, according to a report from a wilderness conservation group published Tuesday.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) found that Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were the only two jurisdictions in Canada to implement “concrete measures … that will protect boreal woodland caribou” in the past year, while the other 11 provinces and territories took no action.

Manitoba created a new park protecting about 1,000 square kilometers of habitat, while the N.W.T. listed woodland caribou as “threatened” under its new species-at-risk legislation.

Quebec and Newfoundland, meanwhile, cut budgets allocated to caribou planning.

Alison Ronson, executive director of CPAWS Northern Alberta, said the situation for caribou isn’t much better in this province.

“Of the 13 boreal woodland caribou herds in Alberta, only one range plan has been started – for the Little Smoky herd in the West Central region of the province,” she said in a release. “It is unknown whether range plans for the other herds will be completed by the 2017 deadline.”

As Metro reported last month, the Calgary Zoo has also backed out of a captive-breeding program once touted by the federal government as a “cornerstone” of its strategy to maintain the population of the threatened woodland caribou.

That program began in 2011 as a partnership between the zoo, Parks Canada, and the province of British Columbia to bolster dwindling caribou herds – some on the verge of complete collapse – in the mountain parks.

At that time, there were believed to be only 250 caribou in the mountain parks, compared to 800 a quarter-century earlier.

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