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Plans for Alberta caribou maternity ward criticized by scientific paper

File photo of a woodland caribou.
File photo of a woodland caribou. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Peninsula Clarion, M. Scott Moon

EDMONTON – Alberta’s plans to restore a dwindling caribou herd by penning off a large section of forest for pregnant cows is coming under attack in scientific literature.

A review of the plan in the journal Animals says fencing forest to protect caribou females from predators will result in naive calves that won’t survive outside the area.

It also says ecosystems within the fenced area will be completely disrupted.

READ MORE: Alberta’s caribou recovery plan draws criticism from environmentalists

Author Gilbert Proulx says the government should focus on expanding the intact habitat that the Little Smoky herd still uses.

READ MORE: Alberta ‘moving forward on restoration efforts’ to address dwindling caribou population 

University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin says the herd is too far gone for that and drastic measures are needed.

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The pens have been criticized by both environmental groups and other biologists.

READ MORE: Canada’s performance on caribou recovery spotty at best: report 

The Little Smoky herd, nearly wiped out by decades of industrial activity on its range, is a focus of Alberta’s caribou recovery plan, which is required by the federal government.

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