Alberta energy minister asked to stop oil leases on vanishing caribou range

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EDMONTON - Environmentalists are asking Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes to stop selling oil and gas leases on the remaining habitat of a vanishing caribou herd.

The Little Smoky herd's range is already 95 per cent disturbed by energy development.

The provincial and federal governments have both said habitat conservation is a priority, but Alberta plans to lease thousands of hectares within the herd's range.

In a letter to Hughes, the Alberta Wilderness Association says new methods such as directional drilling could reduce the impact of development.

The department has said the proposed sales are a tiny fraction of the herd's range and guidelines already protect caribou.

Alberta Environment officials have acknowledged that if the range keeps deteriorating, the herd is likely to disappear.

Organizations: Alberta Energy, Alberta Wilderness Association, Alberta Environment

Geographic location: Alberta, EDMONTON, Little Smoky

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