Calgary Zoo to breed caribou to augment parks herds

The Calgary Zoo will begin captive breeding of woodland caribou to augment herds in national parks in Canada.

The program will provide woodland caribou to “critically small herds” in Jasper, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks and parts of British Columbia, and reintroduce caribou to Banff National Park, Canadian officials said Friday.

Twenty-five years ago, more than 800 caribou ranged in Canada’s mountain parks. Today, fewer than 250 remain.

In the United States, woodland caribou are federally protected as endangered species, with 50 or fewer remaining in a Selkirk Mountain herd that includes parts of North Idaho, Northeastern Washington and Southern British Columbia.

In addition to the Calgary Zoo’s captive breeding program, Parks Canada is working to protect its remaining caribou through seasonal trail closures and by managing densities of other game that predators of caribou feed on.

“Recovery of sensitive species such as woodland caribou is challenging, multifaceted work that involves many partners,” said Frank Oberle, minister of Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development.

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Rich Landers

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