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CPAWS Caribou Report Released

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

October 4, 2004

For Immediate Release:

New report marks launch of campaign to protect woodland caribou

A new report by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) concludes that woodland caribou, a key indicator of a healthy boreal forest, require immediate protection if they are to survive. The report reviews the status of woodland caribou across Canada, and describes a new campaign to protect critical wild areas and to change industrial activities where woodland caribou live.

Among the report's key findings: Of five major woodland caribou populations in Canada, one is endangered, two are threatened and one is of special concern. And a review of recent trends indicates that if steps are not taken now to protect many of the large intact regions where woodland caribou still roam, the species could disappear from much of its range this century.

In Alberta, caribou are listed as threatened and the Little Smoky caribou herd in the Rocky Mountain Foothills is described as the most endangered. The decline of this herd is a direct consequence of intense industrial activity in the region, including clearcut logging and petroleum exploration and development. "The Little Smoky herd is at immediate risk of being lost and this is our last chance to ensure its survival," says Richard Schneider, Executive Director of CPAWS Edmonton. "We are asking industry and the Government of Alberta to halt industrial activity in the herd's core habitat."

CPAWS Edmonton and other conservation groups are focusing their attention on the Little Smoky area in an effort to ensure that there is no further loss of habitat for this caribou herd and that a scientifically sound recovery plan is developed and implemented.

Canada is one of only three countries in the world, along with Russia and the United States (Alaska), where the woodland caribou are still found. According to the CPAWS report, the rapid northward advancement of industrial development is changing our forests and making them unsuitable for woodland caribou.

The report and campaign were developed because of growing awareness and concern among scientists and conservationists that woodland caribou are disappearing from our northern forests and we are not doing much about it. The recent federal designation of Woodland Caribou as "threatened" within the boreal forest region demonstrates that this trend is Canada-wide in scope.

"There is an urgent need for action across Canada's boreal forest," says Tim Gray, Director of Boreal Programs for CPAWS. "In every province and territory our staff and volunteers are working on this campaign, with the target of establishing new protected areas over the next 10 years that will ensure the survival of this iconic species. "

Gray believes there is strong reason to believe the new campaign can be successful. CPAWS, along with leading industry, First Nations and other conservation groups, has worked with the Canadian Boreal Initiative to develop the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework. If it is fully implemented, the Framework would greatly expand permanent protection from industrial uses to cover at least 50% of the boreal forest and see the rest managed in a manner that ensured the sustainability of wildlife populations while also allowing resource extraction. CPAWS is committed to working with other groups to implement the Framework in order to ensure the survival of woodland caribou, among other species.

Please refer to the attached woodland caribou report for details of CPAWS' planned conservation actions. For more information concerning CPAWS regional contacts and the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework please visit www.cpaws.org/boreal

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For more information please contact:
Richard Schneider, Executive Director, CPAWS Edmonton Chapter
780 662 4233
rschneid at icrossroads.com

Tim Gray, Director, Boreal Programs, CPAWS
(416) 986 2408 cell
(416) 971 9453 ext. 32
tgray at cpaws.org

Posted October 4, 2004 by russ

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