The Hunting Report has learned that the Canadian Province of Labrador has suspended sport-hunting of barren-ground caribou this season until further notice. (Subscribers following me on Twitter already heard the news.) The reason is the results of a caribou population survey conducted this past July. The preliminary results show a “continued and serious decline” in the population of the George River caribou herd, which migrates through Labrador and northern Quebec. Although Labrador has stopped sport-hunting for caribou this season, Quebec’s season will continue as usual. While some of Quebec’s caribou hunting targets the George River herd, much of the hunting there is also for the Leaf River caribou herd.
The exact results of the population survey for the George River herd will not be available until sometime in October, although officials in Labrador expect an update on the harvest management plan sometime this month. Until then, and depending on the findings, hunting by all non-Aboriginal people is suspended in Labrador. In Quebec, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Fauna (MRNF) says biologists also tried to survey the Leaf River herd, but their efforts were foiled by conditions that failed to herd those animals together, making it impossible to count them. If conditions prevent biologists from completing the survey of the Leaf River herd this year, they will have to postpone it until 2011. Wildlife management authorities in Quebec are in the process of drawing up a barren-ground caribou management plan that will extend through 2019. They are awaiting the results of these latest surveys to complete that plan.
For now, it is business as usual in Quebec as far as the caribou hunting goes. In fact, hunting is taking place as you read this, and we hear there is some success. Until the results of the surveys are finalized, there is no way to know what action Labrador and Quebec wildlife managers will take regarding next season. Caribou populations across the Arctic are in decline. We have reported extensively on this in Newfoundland and Northwest Territories. But the consensus is that neither sport-hunting nor subsistence hunting are contributing factors to that decline. The Hunting Report will continue to follow this situation. See a more detailed report in an upcoming issue. – Barbara Crown, Editor
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