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AWA recognizes the importance of these lease sale withdrawals and urges the Alberta government to defer all new energy leasing within caribou ranges, until strong habitat-recovery range plans are in place to ensure survival of Alberta’s endangered caribou.On April 29, in the midst of an election, the Alberta government planned another major auction of new oil and gas leases on 35,600 hectares (356 km) of endangered mountain and boreal woodland caribou habitat, without rules to reduce surface disturbance below current excessive levels.As of 2010, 64% of oil sands area caribou ranges were industrially disturbed, and as of June 2011, 83% of their ranges had bitumen leases.At least 65% undisturbed habitat is required for caribou to have even a 60% chance of being self-sustaining, according to Environment Canada.

AWA notes that despite horizontal drilling technology that could consolidate new exploration and production on a reduced footprint, the Alberta government continues to issue leases and approve new surface disturbance including in the 5% of the Little Smoky caribou range that was formerly intact.In May of 2014, Alberta’s ‘mountain’ caribou were assessed as Endangered – in immediate danger of extinction – by Canada’s Species at Risk Act scientist advisors (COSEWIC).Yet the Alberta government plans to sell off a further 1,765 hectares of energy leases in these endangered caribou ranges from May 14 to June 25, in apparent disregard of the habitat crisis facing its caribou.Since September 2014 the Prentice government has auctioned over 1600 km of Alberta caribou ranges for oil and gas leases.On March 5, AWA’s News Release outlined Alberta Government plans to auction new oil and gas leases on 21,000 hectares (212 square kilometers) of endangered mountain woodland caribou habitat, in the Kakwa region of west central Alberta without rules to reduce surface disturbance below current excessive levels.

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