In the wake of a disturbing statistic that puts Labrador’s George River caribou herd at less than 10 percent of its numbers nearly two decades ago, the Newfoundland and Labrador government is seeking to enforce considerable restrictions on caribou hunting in these provinces. Estimates place Labrador’s caribou population at approximately 74,131. A count taken in 2001 returned 385,00 animals while, back in 1993, these numbers were believed to be close to 780,000.
Minister of the Environment Charlene Johnson put it simply to CBC news, Canada’s largest news broadcaster, “The numbers tell us [that] we really need to make significant changes,”
Announced last Tuesday, the government’s restrictions are swift and necessarily strict:
- Labrador’s commercial hunt has abolished
- A moratorium has been placed on non-resident’s participating in outfitter/guided hunting trips to the herd (the only folks hunting caribou in Labrador will be Labradorians and Native Americans/First Nations)
- The once caribou license transfer program for Labrador residents (a system wherein a license holder could arrange for someone else to hunt on his license) has been suspended
- Licensed hunters will be allowed to kill one animal instead of the current limit of two.
Such a dramatic plummet in population, over 90% in 17 years, demands immediate attention to determine this declines root cause as both diminishing caribou numbers and restrictions on hunting are sure to have a detrimental effect the province’s economy.