peter shokeir | [email protected]
Residents will soon have the chance to give their opinion on a captive breeding project aimed at restoring declining caribou herds in Jasper National Park.
Parks Canada will begin consultations in the spring and summer of 2022.
“Input from Indigenous partners, stakeholders and Canadians is essential to developing a successful program and to supporting the recovery of caribou in Jasper National Park,” Parks Canada said in an April 1 update.
“There will be a variety of opportunities for people to provide feedback on this proposal, including virtual and in-person sessions.”
The enclosed rearing facility would occupy dozens of hectares and have pens to separate separate groups according to rearing needs.
It would accommodate about 40 females and five males.
The location of the facility has yet to be determined, but would be away from the Jasper townsite and not accessible to the public.
Last year, a panel of nearly 50 conservationists backed the proposal, but warned that several issues needed to be addressed first, such as ensuring post-release mortality does not exceed levels desired and managing the effects of climate change.
The captive breeding proposal has received mixed feedback from several non-governmental conservation groups, which have advocated limiting human access to South Jasper caribou ranges while the proposal is further considered.
Consultation will be required before the breeding program can begin.
Next steps for the proposal also include defining the scope of the detailed impact assessment, developing a detailed design for a livestock facility, and conducting a detailed impact assessment.
Parks Canada said a detailed impact assessment is its most comprehensive assessment process and will help officials identify and understand any potential negative impacts.
The public can provide comments on the scope of the assessment until April 8.
“After this date, Parks Canada will analyze the comments submitted and then draft the detailed impact statement,” Parks Canada said.
“Once ready, the draft detailed impact assessment will be shared for comment during consultations later this spring.”
Parks Canada said it will decide whether or not to go ahead with the proposal by late fall.
The decision will be based on all comments from consultations, scientific research, detailed impact assessment results and discussions with other provincial jurisdictions.
“If this project is approved, we will begin construction of the conservation livestock facility and continue to plan other aspects of the project,” Parks Canada added.
“Furthermore, ongoing collaboration and engagement with Indigenous partners, stakeholders and the public will continue throughout the life of the project.
Further details on how to participate in the consultations are expected to be provided shortly.
Interested persons can join a mailing list be informed of the start of consultations.