For Immediate Release
Santa’s Canadian reindeer cousins in trouble:
EDMONTON, AB (Dec. 21, 2005) – On behalf of Nature Canada and seven other leading national and Alberta environmental organizations, Sierra Legal Defence Fund today announced that it has filed a legal petition asking the federal government to issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to protect Alberta’s remaining woodland caribou and their habitat.
The petition marks the second legal action by Sierra Legal to test the strength of the federal Species at Risk Act, following a recently launched federal court case earlier this month to seek emergency action to protect British Columbia’s endangered spotted owl.
Woodland caribou, cousins of Santa’s reindeer and one of the most emblematic species of Canada’s boreal wilderness, are at particular risk of extinction in Alberta, where their numbers have dropped by almost 60% since the 1960s.
While Alberta has adopted a caribou recovery plan, the province isn’t taking any meaningful steps to maintain herds at immediate risk of extinction. It’s still allowing logging and petroleum development in their range. I’m sure Santa wouldn’t approve,” said Helene Walsh of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) – Edmonton chapter.
“We’re asking the federal environment minister to move quickly to protect Alberta caribou habitat because it’s threatened by destructive oil, gas and forestry developments,” adds Walsh.
The petition details the Alberta government’s failure to protect the iconic species despite 30 years of studies and warnings from scientists that the province’s caribou are being decimated. There are fewer than 3,000 caribou left in Alberta, and many herds face imminent extinction under current development plans. The Alberta government has given the go-ahead to logging in all of the remaining caribou range in west-central Alberta and most ranges in northern Alberta. A recent study shows that if industrial development proceeds as planned, caribou will be extirpated from the entire province in less than 40 years.
Nature Canada and Alberta Wilderness Association:
CPAWS: Ellen Adelberg, Director of Communications,
CPAWS-Edmonton Chapter: Helene Walsh, 780-922-0908
Sierra Legal Defense Fund: Devon Page,
Federation of Alberta Naturalists: Glen Semenchuk,
Sierra Club of Canada: Rachel Plotkin, 613-241-4611
ForestEthics: Lafcadio Cortesi, 510-701-3540
Greenpeace: Richard Brooks, 416-573-7209