University of Alberta

Caribou Conservation

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Caribou in the media:

February 25, 2106:  Stan Boutin recently participated in a discussion on CBC's The Current about the the ethics of the wolf cull in British Columbia. Check it out for an interesting discussion about wildlife management and conservation.
January 20, 2015: Wolf cull will not save the threatened Canadian caribou - an article in Nature by Emma Morris
In addtion Emma Morris writes:
A spokesperson for Alberta Energy, Natasha McKenzie, said, “the actual approval to go in and actually drill is AER.” A spokesperson for AER, Bob Curran, blamed Alberta Energy, saying, “If the province of Alberta sells mineral rights, what they are saying is you are okay to develop. By the time it comes to us, that policy decision has already been made.”

Kyle Fawcett, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, said that current reduced level of timber and oil and gas activity, combined with wolf control, is holding caribou populations in the province stable while the details of the range plan are hammered out. "The premise our range plan is that this is a working landscape. There are multi-millions of dollars worth of investments; you don't just sterilize them overnight." 

But while Fawcett says the province plans to keep oil and gas and timber active in the area, under the forthcoming range plan there will be "significant changes in how industry operates."

Animal rights advocates were shocked to learn from the study the high number of wolves killed each year. Mark Bekoff, a retired ecologist and advocate of “compassionate conservation," says even studying these wolf kills was unethical. “I just would have said, I am not partaking,” he says. And he says the killing would not be justified even if it were the only way to save Little Smoky caribou. “If you claim that killing the wolves is the only way than caribou can rebound, then the caribou have to go,” he says.

Such a triage approach is also supported by industry. Brad Stevens, Vice President of Western Canada Operations for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says, “It makes sense apply resources in the areas with the greatest effect. The woodland caribou are right across Canada.”
November 29, 2014: Stan Boutin featured on Quirks and Quarks, CBC. Can wolf cull save Alberta caribou? Click on "Listen" to hear the interview.
November 18, 2014:  National Geographic: Should U.S. Government Kill Thousands of Birds to Save Salmon? A growing trend in killing some species to protect others is drawing opponents. -
November 14, 2014: Edmonton Journal article: University of Alberta biologist alarmed at caribou decline
Caribou Conservation
New videos from the The Organising Committee of the 14th North American Caribou Workshop that explain the ecology and conservation of woodland caribou found in British Columbia (BC). 
One of Canada's icons, the caribou, live in BC, but numbers are dwindling. Watch some amazing footage of caribou, wilderness, and the problems they face. Even the caribou do some filming! You can help caribou and raise awareness of the issues they face by sharing this video and learning more about the herd that lives closest to you.

The Boreal Caribou of BC from BC Caribou on Vimeo.

Southern Mountain Caribou of BC from BC Caribou on Vimeo.



Northern Mountain Caribou of BC from BC Caribou on Vimeo.


Research in the Boutin Lab:

Woodland caribou are found in the boreal forest of North America; in Alberta they are listed as an endangered species under Alberta's Wildlife Act. The boreal forest has historically been influenced by natural disturbances such as fire; these forests are increasingly being affected by human disturbances such as timber harvesting and oil and gas extraction. The caribou research being conducted is part of a larger cooperative study. The Boreal Caribou Research Program involves representatives from industry, government and the university. The primary objective of our research program is to examine the short and long term effects of industrial activity on caribou and their habitat. The goal is to integrate industrial activities in northern Alberta with the conservation of caribou and their forest habitat. Our long-term objective in this grant is to develop a cumulative effects simulation model that can be used as a tool to assess various land development scenarios and the consequences of these on a large ungulate like the caribou. We propose to build on the long term data set of the Boreal Caribou Research Program, in cooperation with industrial operators and other stakeholders, to combine field experiments with computer modeling approaches to assess industrial impacts at temporal and spatial scales varying from relatively short term and small scale (e.g., a portion of an individual's lifetime and its home range) to multi-generational, population level analysis (e.g., long-term changes in habitat). In so doing we hope to provide a template for Cumulative Effects Assessment of terrestrial systems that is capable of putting industrial development in the context of natural ecosystem changes at a variety of scales. Subsequent advances in the methodology and application of Cumulative Effects Assessment will provide direction to government and industry sectors with respect to integrating industrial activity and conservation of the boreal forest.

photo credit to Shawn Wasel

Last Modified:2016-02-29