Speed reduction in place to save caribou
Parks Canada is asking drivers to slow down on the highway between Banff and Jasper where caribou have been roaming in the Sunwapta Falls to Beauty Flats area.
The federal agency asks drivers to respect a reduced 70 km/h zone on Highway 93 North, where caribou from the Brazeau herd, one of four herds in Jasper National Park, have recently been seen.
“There are only 13 animals left in the Brazeau herd and a reduced speed zone has been implemented to help prevent the unnecessary loss of caribou through vehicle collisions,” Parks stated in a news release.
Caribou in Jasper National Park are part of the southern mountain population of woodland caribou, listed as threatened under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA).
Twenty-five years ago there were more than 800 caribou roaming the mountain national parks, while today, there are fewer than 250 remaining in five separate herds.
The Banff herd, which had dwindled to a handful, was killed in an avalanche in 2009. There have been no confirmed sightings since that time. The A La Peche herd in Jasper is the largest and is the only one that has been stable, with about 150 caribou.
Jasper’s Tonquin herd is in decline after a period of stability. There were about 60 caribou in 2010, but it has declined by as much as 40 per cent over the last two years.
The Brazeau herd in Jasper has declined, too. There’s an estimated 13 individuals in that herd at present. The Maligne herd in Jasper has also declined; in 2010 there were about six caribou.
The Columbia South herd in Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks has shrunk to seven in 2011, from 100 in 1994.
Last year, Parks Canada released a conservation strategy for southern mountain caribou in Canada’s national parks to support recovery of caribou in the mountain national parks.
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