Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Wolf cull will not save threatened Canadian caribou

Study suggests Canadian government strategy is not enough to preserve caribou population in the boreal forest.
20 January 2015

Boreal caribou populations have declined as industrial activity in Canada's boreal forest has increased.

Since 2005, the Canadian government has shot nearly 1,000 wolves to protect a herd of threatened boreal caribou in the forests of Alberta, Canada. But a recent study suggests that this approach has limited benefit.

It is enough to keep the population of caribou from shrinking further, but it will not allow the animals — a geographically distinct population ofRangifer tarandus, which in Europe is known as the reindeer — to increase their number, finds the November analysis published in theCanadian Journal of Zoology1. Such an increase would require placing new limits on industrial development in Alberta, a conclusion that adds fuel to an ongoing debate about the ecological consequences of human activity in the boreal forest.

Caribou have been listed as threatened since 2002, mainly because much of their boreal forest habitat has been sliced into small fragments by a web of roads, pipelines, clear-cut swathes and well pads. Moose and other deer species do well in these open areas, and their populations have boomed — supporting an increasing population of wolves, which have learned to use the roads and pipelines to access caribou hiding in the deep woods.

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