Cariboo threatened, but there’s still hope: expert

November 20, 2008

CANADA’S caribou populations might be pushed to the brink, but one prominent conservationist says it’s not too late to turn things around.

“We have a rare chance in this world where we can learn from the past, and learn from the patterns of the past and do something different,” said Justina Ray, a zoologist and director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada.

“A ‘business as usual’ approach is going to have to change.”

Ray is in Winnipeg for a caribou-themed event organized by the local arm of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society tonight at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She’ll discuss her new book, Caribou and the North, which she said “tells the story of caribou within the framework of changes that are going on within the north.” That includes oil and gas development in western provinces, and the hydroelectric developments, forestry and mining that threaten Manitoba’s woodland caribou herds.

Estimates of woodland caribou in Manitoba range from 1,800 to 3,100 animals, according to the most recent data from 2006, while a provincial report in the early 1990s estimated the province’s woodland caribou population had dropped by half since 1950.

Conservation Minister Stan Struthers, who will attend the event, is not expected to make any announcements.

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