Risks Mount For Threatened Caribou As Government Stalls On Recovery Plan

Alberta Wilderness Association

News Release: May 9, 2005

Eight months after the Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Plan was submitted to the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta's threatened caribou herds continue to wait for a decision on their fate.

"Each day that the Minister sits on this recovery plan, is a day that industry destroys more wilderness and our dwindling caribou herds lose more of their critical habitat," says Lara Smandych, AWA Conservation Biologist. "Action is required immediately in order to ensure these populations can persist over the long term."

The Recovery Plan was released to Minister Coutts in October 2004. The Plan identifies 3 of the 18 caribou herds in the province as" at immediate risk of extirpation." Included among the proposed recommendations of the plan are the creation of range teams and range plans to assess the needs of the caribou herds, and the placement of a moratorium on new industrial activities within the ranges of herds in immediate risk of extirpation.

But while the plan sits on the Minister's desk, companies like Suncor continue to be granted approval to bulldoze through the heart of the most sensitive ranges for these critically imperiled herds.

Although the plan has been criticized for not doing enough to protect woodland caribou, the government must take responsibility and appropriate action for protecting Alberta's remaining caribou and their habitat.

"The AWA is most concerned that Alberta's caribou are threatened by further delays or indecision by the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. I trust that Mr. Coutts realizes the importance of protecting these caribou," says Cliff Wallis, past president of AWA. "At a minimum we expect him to accept the recommendations, but wish that he would improve upon them and begin implementation immediately!"

In addition to the plan, AWA continues to press the government to develop stronger regulations to guide existing industrial activity within caribou ranges, while urging industry players to improve their practices and in some cases defer their activities in support of Alberta's endangered species.

Lara Smandych, AWA, 403. 283.2025
or visit www.AlbertaWilderness.ca
Cliff Wallis, AWA, 403. 271.1408