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Rudolf's kin more than just Santa's ride
Date:12/23/2008

mportant nutritional source for numerous carnivorous and omnivorous species, such as bears, wolves, wolverines, foxes, ravens, and others. To native peoples such as the Inuit and Gwich'in, the caribou is both a source of sustenance and cultural continuity, as central to their lifestyles as the bison was to Sioux, Blackfoot, and Crow.

In spite of the adaptability of the species, caribou are vulnerable to a number of threats, including deforestation, natural resource extraction and accompanying road networks, and climate change. In North America, caribou have lost about one-third of their southern range. They have been officially classified as 'threatened' or 'endangered' by some jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. Caribou have disappeared entirely from eastern and Great Lakes States, and most herds in Alberta and southern British Columbia are in decline. Even the large migratory herds in the Far North are experiencing widespread declines in numbers and reproduction.

"We've learned a hard lesson in many parts of caribou range. When industrial developments like logging, mining and hydro-electric facilities and their accompanying road networks move in, the health of the ecosystem weakens, and caribou disappear. Our research on boreal forest caribou, which only thrive in intact ecosystems, tells us that we need to impose limits on the extent of industrial development to enable them to survive," said Dr. Ray.

WCS has been conducting caribou surveys in northern Ontario for the past several years, collecting baseline information on the animal's distribution patterns relative to other large mammal species and for land-use planning decisions. WCS is also testing new survey protocols with the Ontario government scientists for vast remote areas. In addition, the caribou was one of three focal species used in WCS's recommendations to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve in Canada's Northwest Territories.

"Many children who grow up in Nort
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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Rudolf's kin more than just Santa's ride
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