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Animals 2017, 7(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani7010002

Fencing Large Predator-Free and Competitor-Free Landscapes for the Recovery of Woodland Caribou in Western Alberta: An Ineffective Conservation Option

1
Alpha Wildlife Research & Management Ltd., Sherwood Park, AB T8H 1W3, Canada
2
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa
3
Department of Animal and Poultry Science & the Indigenous Land Management Institute, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N5A8, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 7 October 2016 / Revised: 1 December 2016 / Accepted: 21 December 2016 / Published: 28 December 2016
Full-Text   |   PDF [719 KB, uploaded 28 December 2016]   |  

Simple Summary

In western Alberta, Canada, in order to recover the Little Smoky boreal woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus) population, the provincial government announced a plan in June 2016 to create a 100-km2-fenced enclosure that would encompass part of the caribou population range. Within the enclosure, all predators and other ungulates will be killed. The fenced area will be dedicated entirely to the farming of caribou, with the intent of releasing weaned calves into adjacent areas with continued intensive wolf (Canis lupus) control throughout the region. Industrial activities will be allowed to continue within the enclosure. In this review, we assess the government’s proposed program on the basis of questions related to the long-term recovery and sustainability of the caribou population, and the conservation and welfare of wildlife populations and individuals. We conclude that this program is unlikely to safeguard the future of this caribou population, will jeopardize wildlife communities inside and outside the fenced enclosure, and will cause harm to wild populations and individual animals. We recommend an alternative habitat conservation program which is ecologically justified over the long term.

Abstract

In Canada, boreal woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are listed as “threatened” throughout their range due directly and indirectly to habitat loss. In western Alberta, in order to recover the Little Smoky boreal caribou population, the provincial government announced a plan to create a 100-km2-fenced enclosure that would encompass part of the caribou population range. Within the enclosure, all predators and other ungulate species will be killed. The fenced area will be dedicated entirely to the farming of caribou, with the intent of releasing weaned calves into adjacent areas with continued intensive wolf (Canis lupus) killing throughout the region. Industrial activities will be allowed to continue within the enclosure. In this review, we assess the government’s proposed program on the basis of questions related to the long-term recovery and sustainability of the caribou population, and the conservation and welfare of wildlife populations and individuals. We conclude that this program is unlikely to safeguard the future of this caribou population, will jeopardize wildlife communities inside and outside the fenced enclosure, and will cause harm to wild populations and individual animals. We recommend an alternative habitat conservation program which is ecologically justified over the long term, and invite the scientific community to object to the implementation of the government’s proposed Little Smoky caribou recovery program. View Full-Text
Keywords: caribou; wolf; fencing; control; wildlife management caribou; wolf; fencing; control; wildlife management
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Proulx, G.; Brook, R.K. Fencing Large Predator-Free and Competitor-Free Landscapes for the Recovery of Woodland Caribou in Western Alberta: An Ineffective Conservation Option. Animals 2017, 7, 2.

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