Our Rocky Mountains used to be full of herds of caribou, also known as reindeer, but in recent years, herds have been very rare to see.
Parks Canada plans to round up female caribou from nearly vanished herds and pen them in a captive breeding program to replenish others.
It proposes taking females from small herds in Jasper National Park and keep them penned up in a facility near the town of Jasper.
Those animals would be augmented by caribou from other herds until there are about 40 females and five males in a highly managed and monitored area of about one square kilometer, surrounded by an electrified fence.
The proposal suggests those breeding females could produce up to 20 animals a year. At that rate, it would take at least a decade to bring Jasper’s herds back to self-sustaining levels.
The facility could also be used to restore herds in Banff National Park.
Some experts say that this might be a risky program since babies raised in captivity might not necessarily have the skills to survive in the wild.
If we make a mistake, we may only have the one chance. They are down to such low numbers.– Dave Argument, conservation manager
However, with the numbers being so low, this is a desperate time and it calls for desperate measures. This program might be the only chance to keep the caribou species alive.