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 Innovation Anthology

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Program ID: Innovation Anthology #312
Program Date: 05/06/2010
Program Category: Conservation, Forests, Natural Resources, Oil Sands, Wildlife

ILM: Woodland Caribou On Brink of Extinction

The future for woodland caribou in Alberta is grim.

And according to Dr. Rick Schneider with the Integrated Landscape Management Program at the University of Alberta, extinction is just around the corner.

DR. RICK SCHNEIDER: If things don’t change, we know that almost all the herds in the province will be down to less than ten animals within three decades. There’s a couple of exceptions, but by and large, we’re looking at the effective loss of most herds in 30, 40 years.

Dr. Schneider says the direct cause of this loss is increased predation by wolves. But wolves and caribou have been on the landscape together for millenia. So what has tipped the balance?

DR. RICK SCHNEIDER: The leading hypothesis is that it's our human change of the landscape that has led to these increase in wolf density and increased encounters with caribou, in particular, the increased number of roads and seismic lines and cutblocks that produce more forage possibilities, more access points for deer to get into systems where caribou really at it all to themselves in the past. And now with these other prey species, we’ve got wolf densities going up and caribou end up taking the brunt of the problem.

Dr. Rick Schneider has developed a computer model that looks at the economic trade-offs around saving woodland caribou.

Learn more at InnovationAnthology.com

I’M CHERYL CROUCHER

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  • NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Integrated Landscape Management
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Syncrude's Mal Carroll explains the long and careful process involved in creating a lake out of a spent oil sands mine pit. (Syncrude)

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