Slave Lake and Nipisi caribou planning next winter

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

A caribou range plan is expected to start next winter for Slave Lake and Nipisi herds.

In January 2021, The Leader reported that the Alberta government planned to start a regional caribou range plan for the Slave Lake and Nipisi herds some time in 2021.

To follow up in January 2022, The Leader asked Alberta Environment and Parks the timeline for this range plan.
“A total of 15 caribou ranges will be addressed by developing 11 sub-regional plans,” says Jason Penner, communications advisor with Alberta Environment and Parks. “Planning for the Slave Lake and Nipisi caribou ranges is expected to begin next winter by establishing a caribou sub-regional task force that brings together representatives from local municipalities, Indigenous peoples and communities, the energy sector, the forestry sector, trappers, recreational users, environmental non-government organizations, and other local stakeholders and knowledge holders.”

Penner adds, “In spite of all the challenges we faced this past year, Alberta made good progress on recovery planning efforts, including the development of and public engagement on draft sub-regional plans for the Cold Lake and Bistcho Lake areas. An additional sub-regional plan for Upper Smoky is being drafted now. Additionally, caribou sub-regional task forces for the Wandering River and Berland areas are underway, and the task force for the Chinchaga area is expected to start its work later in 2022.”

The most recent population data for the Slave Lake (75) and Nipisi (60 to 70) caribou herds is estimates from 2005/2006. It is reported in The Status of the Woodland Caribou in Alberta (2010).

According to Alberta’s Draft Provincial Woodland Caribou Range Plan (2017), the Nipisi range is 210,436 hectares. It is north of Slave Lake, with portions in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, the M.D. of Opportunity, and Northern Sunrise County. The Slave Lake range is 151,623 hectares southeast of Slave Lake with part of it in Lesser Slave River and Woodlands County.

Alberta caribou ranges as of 2017. Courtesy of the Alberta government.

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