Conservationists Expect Improved Support and Action For Caribou

Alberta Wilderness

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Edmonton Chapter

News Release: February 9, 2005

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Edmonton Chapter (CPAWS) and
Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) are becoming increasingly alarmed about
the future of caribou in Alberta. Lack of policy and commitment from
government and industry continues to jeopardize these endangered animals and
their habitat.

"There is a complete failure to address and manage industrial activity
within caribou ranges," says Lara Smandych, AWA Conservation Biologist. "The
decline of caribou in Alberta indicates that resource management is not
sustainable. If caribou are in trouble, it is likely other species are also
at risk. Immediate action is needed to improve their situation."

Dr. Stan Boutin, professor in the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the
University of Alberta, recently presented research that clearly shows that
the petroleum industry and government have violated the 1991 Alberta
Government guideline for industrial use of caribou range (i.e., the integrity
of this habitat is not being maintained). Dr. Boutin also presented the view
that most caribou herds in Alberta are doomed because of excessive industrial
impacts within their range. Furthermore, recent modeling by Peter Weclaw,
also of the University of Alberta, supports the contention that caribou in
Alberta will not survive if the current approach to forest management

"It is time for the petroleum industry, forest industry, and government to
take strong measures to ensure the Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Plan,
submitted to government in October of 2004, is successfully implemented and
caribou populations and habitat in Alberta re maintained," says Rick
Schneider, Executive Director of the CPAWS, Edmonton. "A critical element is
the establishment of an effective bodyoverseeing the implementation of the
recovery plan, with a strong and clear mandate from the government," says

To spur action on this issue, Alberta conservationists are retaining
Sierra Legal Defence Fund to prepare a petition requesting the federal
government to invoke the Species At Risk Act (SARA) protections in Alberta to
save the Little Smoky and A La Peche caribou herds. A recent habitat supply
analysis for both of these herds indicated there is currently not enough
habitat available to support them however, forestry companies, such as Canfor
and Alberta Newsprint, and petroleum companies, such as Suncor and
ConocoPhillips, are pushing ahead with new developments in the last remaining
intact caribou ranges, all with Alberta Government approval.

"Caribou conservation in Alberta is also becoming an economic issue as
consumers locally and in the U.S. begin to steer away from purchasing forest
products made from forests that are poorly managed," says Schneider.

Alberta conservation groups agree that the government must begin to
address caribou conservation needs. Under the leadership of a new Minister
and Deputy Minister, the Department of Sustainable Resource Development is
planning a new direction for addressing caribou conservation in Alberta. It
is anticipated that the new direction will be described at the Boreal Caribou
Committee annual meeting on February 17, 2005.

For more information please contact:

Lara Smandych, AWA, 403. 283.2025
or visit

Rick Schneider CPAWS -Edmonton, 780. 432.0967 / 662.4233
or Helene Walsh 780.922.0908

Devon Page, Sierra Legal Defence Fund, 604.685.5618 (ext.233)