Male caribou – Image by Rogier Gruys, Parks Canada
From the Jasper Fitzhugh, May 18 2017
Slow down… Caribou spotted on Highway 93
Parks Canada is urging drivers to slow down when driving on Highway 93 after a woodland caribou was seen just north of the Sunwapta Warden Station last week.
According to Parks, it is not unusual for woodland caribou, a species at risk, to be found on or near the highway between Sunwapta Falls and the Beauty Creek Hostel at this time of year.
Caribou found in the valley along Highway 93 are part of the Brazeau herd, one of four herds in the park. There are only approximately 10 – 15 animals left in this herd and a reduced speed zone has been implemented to help prevent the unnecessary loss of caribou through vehicle collisions.
Jasper National Park has four main herds. The northern A la Peche herd, estimated at less than 100 animals, spends most of its time outside the national park. In recent years, surveys suggest the A la Peche population is declining.
Three additional herds of caribou are found in the southern part of Jasper, spending most, if not all of their time within the national park. The three herds use distinct regions of the park and rarely interact.
In total, their numbers are estimated at approximately 55 animals and have been declining. The largest herd in south Jasper is the Tonquin herd with 38. The Maligne herd is estimated to have less than 10 animals.
(Note from JEA: The Brazeau herd, currently listed as threatened but considered endangered in the most recent assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, stands to be negatively affected by the proposed bike trail from Jasper to the Columbia Icefield)