In northeastern Alberta, Canada, continued expansion of the oil and gas industry along with timber harvesting has raised concerns that the resulting environmental changes may negatively affect the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) population in this region. Caribou are a threatened species in Alberta, and populations in northeastern Alberta appear to be stable or slightly decreasing. The spatial distribution of caribou in relation to alternative prey (commonly moose [Alces alces]) has been hypothesized to affect the level of wolf (Canis lupus) predation on caribou populations. We monitored radiomarked caribou, moose, and wolves between 1993 and 1997, and we found that selection of fen/bog complexes by caribou and selection of well-drained habitats by moose and wolves resulted in spatial separation. This spatial separation in turn reduced wolf predation pressure on caribou but did not provide a total refuge from wolves. Any management activities that increase the density of moose and wolves or increase access of wolves into fen/bog complexes will likely reduce the refuge effect provided by large fen/bog complexes.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4