TORONTO (June 9, 2009) – Field studies of wide-ranging wildlife by the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada figured prominently in the massive expansion of Nahanni National Park, announced today by announced today by the Government of Canada and the Dehcho First Nation. The decision expands the Park from 1,862 square miles to 12,000 square miles of the South Nahanni River watershed – a globally important wilderness area in the Northwest Territories.
“Nahanni is one of the great natural areas in the world,” said Dr. John Weaver, who studied grizzly bears, woodland caribou, and Dall’s sheep in this remote region during 2002-2007. “The previous boundary was too narrow and too small for these big animals, and this expansion will protect critical habitat for these vulnerable wildlife species.”
Expansion of the Park makes it one of the largest in the world – 3.5-times the size of Yellowstone National Park – with no roads and no major trails. The Park occurs within the traditional territory of the Dehcho indigenous people, who were directly involved in the expansion process.
An additional 3,000 square miles in the South Nahanni headwaters has also been withdrawn from development for consideration as a separate but contiguous national park in the territory of the Sahtu people.
“The studies carried out by Dr. Weaver provided the solid scientific basis for revising the Park’s boundary to help ensure its ecological integrity,” stated Dr. Stephen Woodley, chief scientist for Parks Canada.
“This momentous decision by the Canadian government represents a new way of thinking about conservation at larger scales,” said Dr. Justina Ray, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada.
Dr. Weaver’s reports about Nahanni wildlife can be found at the WCS Canada website www.wcscanada.org.
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org
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