Woodland Caribou Research in Alberta – Caribou Range Restoration Project

Sarah Boyle, Devon

Woodland caribou are a threatened species in Alberta, with most populations in decline. Research has shown caribou respond negatively to linear developments such as roads, seismic lines and pipelines. Specifically, caribou avoid areas adjacent to roads and seismic lines, which also provide easier access to caribou habitats by predatory wolves and humans.

Up to 85 per cent of some Alberta caribou ranges are within 250 metres of a linear disturbance, highlighting the need to restore these human impacts on the landscape. Because natural recovery of linear disturbances tends to be slow, direct action is needed to reduce predator and human access and encourage vegetation re-growth. Such actions will also benefit other sensitive wildlife species such as grizzly bears, wolverines and bull trout.

This project seeks to hasten the recovery of linear disturbances and other human developments so as to reduce and eventually eliminate these negative impacts on woodland caribou. Project objectives include:

  • re-vegetating disturbances, particularly with native vegetation, so as to deter predation and remove barriers to caribou movement
  • developing a preliminary set of guidelines for reclamation of industrial developments in caribou ranges
  • developing a long-term monitoring strategy for assessing the success of these reclamation efforts
  • promoting First Nations involvement through consultation and involvement in projects.