Shrinking provincial caribou herd leads to tougher hunting restrictions

 The Newfoundland and Labrador government has brought in tough restrictions on caribou hunting in light of a serious decline in the size of the George River herd in Labrador.

A recently completed census has put the size of the herd at about 74,000 animals, down from 385,000 in 2001 and 776,000 in 1993.

Environment and Conservation Minister Charlene Johnson said Tuesday that the “current liberal hunting regulations are not sustainable” and the census illustrates the need for immediate conservation measures.

Effective immediately, the commercial caribou hunt, non-resident caribou hunting via the use of outfitters, and the resident caribou licence transfer system for Labrador residents will be suspended.

The licence transfer system allowed for any Labrador resident to transfer their licence to kill two caribou to any resident qualified to hold a big game licence.

Additionally, the allowable limit will be reduced to one caribou per licensed hunter from the current limit of two.

The province said it will also establish a committee to review whether additional conservation measures may be required in the future.

 

Taken from The Western Star 11/09/10

Views: 40

Replies to This Discussion

Corey, Is there any mention as what might have caused these declines? Its really strange to see such a large herd shrink to numbers like this. First, the woodland caribou are in danger. And, now this, the Barren ground caribou is declining. I think there should be some investigation into why caribou herds are declining in this province! Ed
In Labrador you can harvest 2 Caribou per license if I remember correctly. That's a lot of Caribou per year. Not to mention poachers and the feud between the governemnt and the Innue. I have an uncle in Charlottetown and from what he has told me the wolves and coyotes have everything torn apart and they are major problems in that area.
A new conservation plan aimed at saving a dwindling caribou herd in Labrador will have devastating consequences, outfitters say.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government this week cancelled the commercial hunt of the George River herd, after a new census showed that its population had dropped by more than 90 per cent in 17 years.

"I was devastated. To see it come so sudden and so blunt — for us, it's quite harsh," said Gary Travers, whose company Labrador Caribou Outfitters has depended on the annual hunt.

"I knew [there] was something coming up, [but] I didn't think the changes were going to be this drastic."

Travis said he will need to cancel nearly 50 bookings.

Environment and Conservation Minister Charlene Johnson has also halted the transfer of licences — which allowed a holder to arrange for someone to hunt on their behalf — and cancelled the ability of out-of-province individuals to participate in the hunt. As well, non-aboriginal Labradorians have been limited to one caribou each. Aboriginal hunters are allowed to hunt as they wish.

Those rules will also have an impact, said Happy Valley-Goose Bay hunter Hollis Yetman.

"We usually harvest two caribou per year for our own consumption. I usually get a caribou for my parents who don't hunt and have lived in Labrador their entire lives, [as] third-generation Labradorians," Yetman said.

Johnson said government needed to take strong action on the hunt. The latest count put the George River herd at 74,131 animals, down steadily since a 1993 count of 776,000 caribou.

CBC.CA
Environment and Conservation
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
November 9, 2010

Conservation Measures Announced for George River Caribou

Caribou are essential to the cultural identity, customs and traditions of Labradorians and are an important dietary staple.  Following the completion of field work and data analysis for the George River caribou herd census by biologists from both Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation, today announced new conservation measures to further protect the George River herd. The results indicate the current population of the herd is 74,131. This represents a significant decline from the previous census estimate of 385,000 in 2001. In 1993, a similar census estimated the herd at 776,000 animals.

"The results of this census clearly illustrate the need to implement immediate and alternative harvest management approaches to help prevent further decline of the herd," said Minister Charlene Johnson. "The current liberal hunting regulations are not sustainable and, as a result of this census and the feedback we received from the people of Labrador during a series of public consultation meetings, immediate and significant conservation measures are warranted to ensure appropriate long-term management for the George River caribou."

Effective immediately, the commercial caribou hunt, non-resident caribou hunting via the use of outfitters, and the resident caribou licence transfer system for Labrador residents will be suspended. The licence transfer system allowed for any resident of Labrador to legally transfer their licence to harvest two caribou to another resident of Labrador who was qualified to hold a big game licence. Additionally, the allowable harvest will be reduced to one caribou per licensed hunter from the current limit of two, and the season will open immediately and close on April 30 in open zones.

The Provincial Government will also establish a committee to review whether additional conservation measures may be required in subsequent years, after a more detailed assessment of the population and increased monitoring efforts are conducted. The intention is to work toward the implementation of a co-management board which has worked effectively in other jurisdictions.

On August 9, 2010, a delay to the start of the caribou hunt in Labrador was announced, pending final completion and analysis of a census of the herd. The post-calving census was conducted in July, in partnership with the Government of Quebec, Laval University, the Nunatsiavut Government, Torngat Wildlife and Plants Co-Management Board and the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research. In addition, public consultations were held on October 12 and 13 of this year with targeted stakeholders, including Aboriginal governments and groups, outfitters and resident hunters.

"We thank all those who participated in our meetings, as well as those who provided written submissions," said Minister Johnson. "It was made abundantly clear by all stakeholders that conservation of the herd is the top priority."

The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs, also applauded the cooperative nature that was evident during the public consultation meetings recently held in Labrador.

"What I heard loud and clear from all stakeholders was that conservation of the resource must take priority over harvest," said Minister Hickey. "These measures are designed to recognize the considerable value and importance of this resource to all Labradorians."

"Ongoing and enhanced management will be critical to safeguard the George River herd into the future," said the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "In the coming months, as we focus on a longer-term management strategy for the herd, we will be engaging and encouraging all partners and stakeholders with an interest in the George River caribou to come together in the interest of conservation to assist in the protection of this important resource."

- 30 -

Media contacts:
Melony O’Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 689-0928
moneill@gov.nl.ca John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762
jtompkins@gov.nl.ca
I seriously doubt that hunting was the main contributer to this decline. A drop this great makes me think its enviromental.
Its a 700,000 animal decline in 7 years. A 100,000 animal drop per year> Theres not that many wolves or coyotes, or hunters or poachers.
Just my 2 cents
I agree!
I cant believe how they hung the outfitters out to dry.
I hear ya John, but it's not going to get any better any time soon. Something had to be done.
If what happened to that herd is the same as when avalon herd collapsed in the 60s. Theres probably none of us going to be around to see its rebound.getting that herd back to 700,000 will take decades.

  I'm only just now reading these comments concerning caribou and it seems familiar to me . I wrote a comment somewhere on the site about the Avalon Wilderness herd at Cape Pond  but can't find it now. "Try this". Do a Google search on  BRAIN WORM THAT KILLS CARIBOU.

           Albert.

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