Calgary

Avalanche deaths of woodland caribou endanger herd recovery

An avalanche north of Lake Louise killed three woodland caribou, whose numbers were already rapidly depleting in Alberta before the incident.

An avalanche north of Lake Louise killed three woodland caribou, whose numbers were already rapidly depleting in Alberta before the incident.

Parks Canada said Wednesday that the three animals died in an avalanche in the Molar Creek area. Two of them were females with radio collars while the third was a younger female who did not have a tracking device.

The Banff woodland caribou herd is the most southerly in Alberta and might have as few as five animals.

Conservation specialists won't be able to confirm if other caribou from the herd were also killed in the slide until the spring when the avalanche debris melts.

Parks Canada staff will continue to search for tracks and signs of a young buck and a second caribou of an unknown gender.

"The loss of these animals will affect the course of caribou recovery in Banff National Park, but no decisions or further details regarding the future of caribou in Banff National Park will be available until further information is obtained," said a statement from Parks Canada.

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