Woodland Caribou are an iconic Canadian species and they are in real trouble.
Woodland caribou are beautiful creatures, perfectly adapted to Alberta’s forests. With their large hooves, they ‘crater’ through winter snow to find lichen to eat, and move over wetlands and snowpack that other animals cannot easily cross. They live in old growth forests and peat wetland areas, which other prey species such as deer and moose avoid. That’s how caribou have been able to live alongside natural predators like wolves and bears for thousands of years.
Even if most of us never see majestic wild caribou, we know it is important that they thrive.
Healthy Caribou. Healthy Forests. Healthy Communities.
Today, woodland caribou survival is threatened by relentless resource development in their critical habitat and by the fear of change. The best scientific standard is to manage forests so at least 65% of a population’s home range is undisturbed. Local communities will prosper along with caribou if resource management changes, adapts to what has happened and is based on ecosystems and the recovery of overly exploited forest.
We need Alberta to produce range plans with protected areas, extensive cutline recovery, and clustered development so caribou can recover and communities can thrive. Healthy forests mean there will be long-term jobs for communities. Forests capture carbon, regulate climate, produce oxygen and deliver other ecological benefits. Forests provide homes and resting places for hundreds of other species and their wise management is vital to our health and economy.
Caribou and resource jobs are not competing goals. Both depend on healthy forests. The best way to save caribou and jobs is to manage our forests responsibly.
For more than forty years conservationists have been calling upon government and industry to work with resource communities, First Nations and environmental groups to protect caribou and their habitat and to diversify economic opportunities in resource dependent areas.
Despite repeated assurances of protective actions from government and industry, resource extraction has increased, pushing caribou in many areas to the brink of extinction. In 2012 Environment Canada committed to carry out a long-overdue national caribou recovery strategy and Alberta pledged to provide range management plans within 5 years.
In June 2016 Alberta committed to set up large new protected areas in three northwest caribou ranges, in areas without industrial forestry. Now they need strong encouragement to stick to this promise.
Alberta has also paused new energy lease auctions in caribou range until range plans are finished. However, new disturbance continues, without any plans outlining how to reach the minimum 65% undisturbed habitat needed to recover caribou. We need strong range plans for healthy communities and healthy caribou populations.
Time is running out!
Questions and Answers
Here are some common questions and answers about the effects of caribou habitat protection in Alberta.
Brochures You Can Print
What’s happening now?
Here are some updates on what we’ve been doing to support this cause.
Act now for healthy caribou and forests for generations to come:
Let your voice be heard.
Who is working to save caribou?
The organizations listed below are working to save caribou, secure legislative protection for their habitat and help develop better management of our forests for wildlife and jobs.
We can’t succeed without your help and support!
You can contact any one of these organizations for further information.
Donate to this cause through the Alberta Wilderness Association.