Can Alberta save the caribou?

The Alberta government released the first draft of a plan to save the province’s woodland caribou after the species’ continued population decline since 1900.

Caribou are a distinctly Canadian species. From their white rumps and tails to their brown coats and wide muzzles, most people recognize the large-antlered mammals as the wilder looking cousins to Santa’s reindeer!

According to the Alberta Wilderness Association’s website, woodland caribou have “historically occupied two-thirds of (Alberta) ranging from the west-central foothills to the boreal forests of the north.”

Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are classified as a threatened species both provincially and nationally.  A 2010 Alberta Wildlife Status Report says that although predation by wolves is the primary cause of caribou death in natural conditions, ongoing declines in the population are likely the result of human-caused habitat alteration.

The province has released a draft to save Canada’s beloved caribou. The plan targets two major herds: the Little Smocky and A La Peche caribou ranges.

According to the draft, released by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), current habitat conditions in the Little Smocky and A La Peche Caribou Ranges can’t support self-sustaining caribou herds.

So what does the future hold for the woodland caribou? At this point, it’s still hard to tell. One thing is for certain: Albertans, and for that matter, all Canadians, should care about the future of the woodland caribou. A world that watches as a (more than) thousand-year-old species disappears is not a world doing its due diligence to the animals that call it home.

The detailed “Little Smocky and A La Peche Caribou Range Plan” was released on June 2 and can be found by clicking here or visiting

AIWC advocates environmental stewardship and knowledge in the next generation by educating children and adults alike on how their actions impact the environment on a larger, provincial scale. This is achieved through public education and a wide range of Wildlife Education Programs.

To book an education event, complete a Wildlife Education Program Request.

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“We don’t own the earth. We are the earth’s caretakers. We take care of it and all the things on it. And when we’re done with it, it should be left better than we found it.”
― Katherine Hannigan, author.

By: N. Grossman, Volunteer Writer.

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