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How should threatened woodland caribou be protected?

Categories: Canada


Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in northern Alberta, said he is outraged the federal government will not introduce emergency protection for the woodland caribou. (Mike Bedell/CPAWS/The Canadian Press)

A First Nation in northern Alberta is fighting for the future of the woodland caribou that live near the province's oilsands, where the mammal is listed as a threatened species.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent recently reiterated that he will not issue an emergency protection order for caribou. He maintains that, nationally, the herds do not face an imminent threat of extinction.

"In vast areas of Canada, the caribou are in sustainable population groups," he said on Wednesday.

The decision has raised the ire of Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

"The Dene and the caribou always lived together side by side," said Adam, who fears that the animals will disappear from the area unless they are formally protected.

"I think that the minister at this point in time has lost all senses and, in my view, I don't think he's credible enough to sit in that position," said Adam.

Some scientists have predicted caribou will be gone within 30 years. Biologists have been documenting the collapse of woodland caribou in northeastern Alberta for more than a decade.

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