Government of Canada invests in reversing biodiversity loss through conservation breeding program for caribou in Jasper National Park

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First-in-Canada caribou breeding program in Jasper National Park has the potential to restore caribou populations and support Canada’s biodiversity goals

JASPER NATIONAL PARK, AB, Feb. 27, 2023  /CNW/ – The protection and recovery of species at risk across the country is an important part of our shared natural and cultural heritage. At COP15 last December in Montreal, the Government of Canada joined the world in recommitting to halting and reversing biodiversity loss.

©Parks Canada, Lalenia Neufeld. Caribou calf in the Tonquin Valley of Jasper National Park. (CNW Group/Parks Canada)

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced plans to move forward on a new caribou conservation breeding program to support southern mountain caribou recovery in Jasper National Park. The program’s goal is to rebuild dwindling caribou populations in Jasper National Park that are too small to recover on their own.

As a result of today’s announcement, Parks Canada is taking the first steps toward implementing this first-of-its-kind caribou conservation breeding program. Steps include constructing a breeding facility in Jasper National Park, establishing collaboration agreements with Indigenous partners, continuing discussions with federal and provincial partners to determine the best approach to source additional caribou from other populations, and developing more detailed operational plans to ensure the health and wellbeing of animals involved in the program. Each aspect of the program strives to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples. Indigenous partners have been and will continue to be involved in this conservation effort.

Parks Canada took into consideration comprehensive research and consultation before deciding to move forward with the conservation breeding program. Guidance from experts in caribou ecology and conservation breeding, discussions with provincial jurisdictions, feedback from Indigenous partners, stakeholder and public consultations and a detailed impact assessment informed this decision.  

Efforts to protect caribou and critical habitat for caribou in Jasper National Park are part of a broader effort by federal and provincial governments and Indigenous partners, peoples and communities to support the recovery of caribou across Canada.


“Every child in Canada can recognize a caribou from the iconic image engraved on our 25-cent coins. Preserving this species is an important aspect of our shared cultural and natural heritage in Canada. Moving forward with the next steps on the caribou breeding program in Jasper National Park will include the construction of a breeding facility and further collaboration with Indigenous partners and other federal and provincial partners. This initiative supports the Government of Canada’s commitments to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, protecting species at risk and supporting a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples. It is critical in the protection and recovery of this beloved and culturally significant species at risk.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, 

Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“This investment in the protection of the Caribou is not only critical to the ecological integrity of Jasper National Park, but also for future visitors to our national parks across Canada. Restoring the caribou herds to Canada’s mountain landscapes will create opportunities for Canadians and visitors from around the world to learn and experience the ecological and cultural importance of this species at risk.”

The Honourable Randy Boissonnault 

Minister of Tourism, Associate Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre 

“The Government of Canada is committed to fighting biodiversity loss and without intervention, the Brazeau and Tonquin caribou will disappear. We can only achieve this goal by working together, and it’s why our government supports on-the-ground initiatives for species at risk protection across the country.”

Terry Duguid 

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick facts
  • Budget 2021 has made over $24 million available through the Nature Legacy program for caribou conservation initiatives in Jasper National Park.
  • Jasper National Park extends over 11,000 square kilometres. It is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
  • Female caribou typically have their first calf around age three. It is very rare for a caribou to have more than one calf.
  • Caribou that live in Jasper National Park are part of a subgroup of woodland caribou called southern mountain caribou. Many southern mountain caribou herds are small and endangered. There are now three populations in Jasper National Park: Tonquin, Brazeau, and À la Pêche. There have been no signs of the Maligne population since 2018.
  • Southern mountain caribou is one of six species identified by federal, provincial, and territorial governments as a priority for Pan-Canadian conservation action. This priority status is based on their ecological, social, and cultural value to Indigenous peoples and Canadians. Caribou recovery can significantly support other species at risk and overall biodiversity within the ecosystems they inhabit.
  • Conservation breeding programs prevent animal species from becoming extinct and help in their recovery. Conservation breeding involves capturing a small number of wild animals, breeding them in captivity, and releasing their offspring back into the wild to increase populations of endangered wildlife.
  • Parks Canada could begin to bring wild caribou into the new conservation breeding centre in Jasper National Park as early as 2025.
Related documents
  • Backgrounder
  • What we heard report: Indigenous, Stakeholder and Public Consultations 2022
  • Detailed impact assessment: Canadian Impact Assessment Registry 
  • Caribou comeback: a summary of Park’s Canada’s conservation breeding program
  • Jasper National Park’s conservation breeding program to rebuild small caribou herds  
  • Multi-Species Action Plan for Jasper National Park (2017)
  • Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population (2014)
Related links
  • Parks Canada website
  • Let’s Talk Mountain Parks: consultation
  • Jasper National Park: Caribou recovery
  • News release: Government of Canada making additional investments to support the recovery of woodland caribou in Jasper National Park (August 10, 2021)

SOURCE Parks Canada

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