VANCOUVER — A new study done in northeastern Alberta suggests habitat restoration may not be enough to save threatened woodland caribou, at least in the short term, and researchers at the University of British Columbia say their results make the case for a more rigorous analysis of conservation methods.Much of the caribou habitat in Western Canada has already been degraded by industrial activities, such as oil and gas exploration, so one of the key tools being used to protect caribou is habitat restoration, said Cole Burton, the senior author of the study and a forestry professor who leads the wildlife coexistence lab at the university. But wildlife responses to habitat restoration are often assumed rather than verified, the study says.- Advertisement -“We can’t just accept on faith that things are working,” Burton said in an interview on Wednesday.The researchers set out to monitor caribou and their predators, such as black bears and wolves, as well as other prey like moose and white-tailed deer in both restored and unrestored habitat areas between 2015 and 2018.In northeastern Alberta, they placed hidden cameras along seismic lines — narrow strips of land cleared for oil and gas exploration. They fragment caribou habitat and facilitate the movement of predators, disrupting a natural separation and increasing the predation of caribou, Burton said.Advertisement In October, the province announced it was allocating $6.5 million over three years for caribou habitat restoration projects, including planting trees, spreading woody debris and installing fences to disrupt the thoroughfares that advantage predators.But trees grow back slowly in the northern Boreal forest, which means caribou habitat restoration is a long-term process, Burton said.A spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said it is reviewing the study to determine if and how its findings could be applied to the province’s caribou recovery strategy. The ministry also said the recovery program is closely monitored to determine whether it’s meeting caribou recovery goals.More immediate measures, such as maternity penning where pregnant caribou are protected by a fence as well as predator culling, are also part of the B.C. government’s strategy to protect threatened caribou.Burton said it’s likely the province will have to pursue a predator cull, which is contentious, for a long time until caribou habitat recovers more fully.Advertisement The study, which was published last week in the journal Biological Conservation, showed that most predators and prey used the restored seismic lines about as much as they used the unrestored lines.Caribou preferred to use more isolated lines and those around low-lying wetland areas, regardless of whether the lines had been restored. Only white-tailed deer were observed using the restored lines less than the unrestored ones, the study found.The researchers monitored lines that had been restored three to six years before the study as part of an effort by members of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, or COSIA, to reclaim 570 square kilometres of caribou habitat along the Athabasca River about 70 kilometres southwest of Fort McMurray, Alta.In addition to tree planting, restoration can also include the development of mounds of earth and piles of fallen logs and debris to try to break up the movement and sight lines of predators.Advertisement “If we’re going to keep caribou around, we really do need to think about what vision are we going to keep them in,” said Burton.“Are we going to put them in a little fenced area until we finish developing and restoring the landscape and just hope that they survive? Or are we going to have a vision where we have more substantial protection of their habitat?”Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press Deterring predators with so-called movement blockers requires substantial effort and modification of the landscape, said Burton, who noted it’s possible that intensifying these efforts could help break up seismic lines more effectively.The lines Burton and his team studied in Alberta were developed around the 1980s.“Since that time, industry has tried to change their methods to what they would call low-impact seismic lines, so much narrower (and) maybe not as straight, so they break up the line of sight of the predators, like wolves,” said Burton. COSIA could not immediately be reached for comment.The same issues are happening in northeastern B.C., where woodland caribou also roam alongside seismic lines established for oil and gas exploration, Burton said.Advertisement
Liverpool had a tricky-looking match on paper at Stamford Bridge but emerged unscathed, winning 2-1 to maintain their five-point gap at the top.But defeats for United and Tottenham, and a tough battle for Arsenal, who recovered to beat newly-promoted Aston Villa 3-2, showed the “Big Six” are not going to have things all their own way this season.Here, AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:Imperious City show hungerWere Manchester City losing their hunger after consecutive Premier League title triumphs?Bernardo Silva (left) scored a hat-trick as Manchester City beat Watford 8-0 © AFP / Oli SCARFFPep Guardiola did not appear especially worried after his side’s 3-2 defeat against Norwich last weekend, saying he still loved his team.They responded to his affection in emphatic fashion, pummelling Watford just four months after smashing them 6-0 in the FA Cup final at Wembley.Bernardo Silva, who scored a hat-trick against Watford, said City had wanted to put on a show for their fans.“After the defeat at Norwich obviously we wanted to get the three points and give our fans a good performance,” Silva told Sky Sports.“We were unbelievable in the first 30 minutes, scored lots of goals and had control.”European champions Liverpool are setting a frightening standard as they go in search of their first top-flight English title since 1990 but City are not going to go away.New faces in top sixLeicester and West Ham proved their credentials in their bid to break the iron grip of the Premier League’s top six with victories over Tottenham and Manchester United.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United lost 2-0 to West Ham © AFP / Ian KINGTONBrendan Rodgers’s Leicester have now faced Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs in their opening six games and have more than held their own.Also, the stuttering form of the established powers behind Liverpool and Manchester City means there is little to fear for sides unused to the rarefied atmosphere at the top of the Premier League.United have now won just one of their past five league games, Tottenham have not won away in the Premier League since January and Chelsea are yet to taste victory at home under Frank Lampard.Leicester and West Ham hold a three-point lead over all three and are level with Arsenal, who battled to their first win in four league games at home to Aston Villa.Liverpool back up Alexander-Arnold’s trophy boastBacking his brash words with bold actions, Trent Alexander-Arnold emphasised why Liverpool are such a serious threat to Manchester City’s hopes of a third successive title.Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold © AFP / Ben STANSALLAlexander-Arnold previewed Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea on Sunday by declaring that Jurgen Klopp’s side are determined to become serial trophy winners.Not content with last season’s Champions League triumph, Alexander-Arnold said: “We don’t want to be remembered as that Liverpool team that only won the Champions League. We want to be the team that people can’t remember how many trophies we have won because we won so many.”That kind of talk can put pressure on a team if they are not made of the right stuff, but Alexander-Arnold walked the walk as his blistering first-half free-kick at Stamford Bridge put Liverpool on course for a sixth successive win that moved them five points clear of City at the top.0Shares0000(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League © AFP / Ben STANSALLLONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 22 – Liverpool beat Chelsea to preserve their perfect record and Manchester City romped to a record-breaking win but elsewhere it was far from business as usual during a dramatic Premier League weekend.City were imperious against Watford, 5-0 up within the first 18 minutes and just one goal shy of matching Manchester United’s Premier League record for the biggest margin of victory — 9-0 against Ipswich in 1995.