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AWA News Release: Stop Alberta Energy Leases in Threatened Little Smoky Caribou Range

February 6, 2013

In violation of Alberta’s 2011 woodland caribou policy that places an immediate priority on maintaining caribou habitat, Alberta Energy plans auctions of new oil and gas leases within the Little Smoky caribou range on February 7, March 7 and April 25, 2013. This herd’s habitat is already 95% disturbed, according to Environment Canada. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) has issued an open letter to Alberta’s Energy Minister urging him to defer these lease sales as a step towards responsible habitat management for this herd at imminent risk of local extinction.

“Despite Alberta’s caribou policy, and despite horizontal drilling technology that could consolidate new exploration and production on a reduced footprint, the Alberta government keeps issuing leases and approving new facilities, roads and well sites in the Little Smoky range, including in the 5% that was formerly intact,” says Carolyn Campbell, AWA conservation specialist.

The letter notes that because of increasing habitat loss from leases and ensuing disturbance, Alberta’s department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development resorts to a massive wolf kill in the Little Smoky range, shooting and poisoning over 650 area wolves from 2005-2012, and issues hundreds of moose hunting permits each year.

“To keep scapegoating other wildlife, ignoring technological approaches to avoid surface disturbance, and exacerbating the root cause of caribou decline is completely out of balance, and unethical,” Campbell states in the letter. “Minister Hughes, the fate of this caribou herd rests with your decision to defer new leasing and disturbance until enough habitat can be restored to recover these populations.”

It is my belief that Non-profit organizations like the Alberta Wilderness Association provide a clear framework that creates opportunities for Albertans to actively participate in the protection of their provinces resources.
- Chelsea Caswell, Student, University of Lethbridge
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