Save the Last Caribou from Fossil Fuel Plundering


Target: Dave Hancock, Premier of Alberta, Canada

Goal: End the surface disruption and sale of lands in caribou habitat that is driving herds to extinction

Caribou, also known as reindeer, are one of the most iconic creatures of the frozen north. For tens of thousands of years humans in many parts of the world depended on caribou herds for survival, hunting the animals and raising them as livestock. But in Alberta, Canada it is the caribou whose survival is now in question. Fossil fuel companies have purchased, exploited and destroyed nearly all the herds’ native habitat in the province. And recently–just days after the species was declared endangered–the provincial government began auctioning yet more land leases to oil and gas corporations right in the heart of caribou country.

The official Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada noted in their report that herds are in steep decline even in what few protected areas remain. The total number of central mountain caribou is only 40% of what it was just ten years ago, down to a low of only 500 mature adults. And according to Justina Ray, who helped write the federal report, “The [factor] that has caused the greatest change is industrial disturbance.”

Fossil fuel companies hungry for the region’s infamous tar sands oil will likely begin tearing up the land as soon as the ink dries on their leases. If the provincial government fails to protect the last remaining mountain caribou herds from development their extinction is certain. Call on the Premier of Alberta to halt all surface disruption and sale of lands within the remaining caribou habitat.


Dear Premier Hancock,

Although investors in tar sands oil are celebrating the new lands being opened for drilling and strip-mining, endangered caribou herds will undoubtedly suffer because of it. Only 500 or so mature adult central mountain caribou remain. Their numbers have dropped precipitously in the last decade, even in protected areas. And there is no question that the habitat disruption caused by energy companies searching for oil is to blame.

Perhaps you are thinking: what are a few hundred caribou in the name of progress? Many humans, including the first Canadians, depended on caribou herds for their survival. The animals are part of an complex web of life including wolves, diverse grasslands, and other iconic species. That you would push for the development of lands home to two endangered herds is morally reprehensible, and takes a short-sighted view of the true value of your natural resources.

New Democratic Party legislator Rachel Notley has called the new oil and gas leases “a revealing demonstration of this utter lack of attention to environmental considerations in this province.” I call on you to immediately cease the sale and lease of all lands within central mountain caribou habitat, and to end surface disruption and drilling activities already taking place there. If you fail to do so the caribou’s extinction is virtually guaranteed–and that is too high a price to ask of Canada’s future generations.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alfred Cook via Flickr

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  1. Christina Anderson says:

    Again, it’s all about greed. Humans will destroy habitat, decimate animal populations, and foul their own water sources all in the name of profit. The Bible is right, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

  2. paula eaton says:

    The oil and gas companies have greedy politicians in their pockets.

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