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Report: Canada's Yellowstone too small for wildlife

TORONTO A new scientific report by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a 110-year-old science-based conservation organization, says that Northwest Territories' Nahanni National Park Reserve one of Canada's most beloved and storied national parks is too small to maintain its nearly pristine population of grizzly bears, caribou and Dall's sheep.

According to the report, which looked at more than four years of WCS field data, the park needs to expand from its current size of under 5,000 square kilometers, to include the entire South Nahanni River watershed and the adjacent Nahanni Karstlands, an area totaling more than 38,000 square kilometers four times larger than Yellowstone National Park.

The report's author, Dr. John Weaver of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that the park's current narrow boundaries are too small to contain grizzlies, caribou and Dall's sheep, all of which occupy much larger ranges than the park currently provides. He cautions that without expanding the boundaries, these species will decline due to development pressures looming outside of the park.

"Unfortunately, wildlife do not recognize park boundaries, and this is particularly true in the case of Nahanni National Park Reserve" said Weaver, who has studied North American wildlife for more than three decades. "If we don't protect the full range of Nahanni's populations of grizzlies, caribou, and Dall's sheep, then those species are in trouble."

Weaver's research showed that the Nahanni's woodland caribou, for example, frequently travel over long distances outside of the park, and need unbroken boreal wilderness to survive. Currently, key seasonal areas for caribou lie outside of the park.

Nahanni's grizzly bear population, according to the report, contains some of the highest genetic diversity of any other grizzly population in North America, revealing a nearly pristine population of these large carnivores. Weaver also discovered new p
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5-Jul-2006


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