Further decline recorded in George River herd as of July
A photo census of the George River caribou herd, completed in July, has come back with a population estimate of just 14,200 animals. In 2012, the herd population was estimated at 27,600 animals.
The recent census was completed in Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Quebec, given the herd freely crosses back and forth across the border.
The coverage area means the response to the herd’s dramatically declining population is a more complicated. And it is unclear how deep the conversation has gone at the leadership level when it comes to potential approaches to assisting herd recovery.
“The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Province of Quebec have collaborated to make contact with the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table (UPCART),” reads a statement provided by a Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman.
UPCART membership includes: the Inuit of Nunavik, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Grand Council of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee/Cree Regional Authority, the Innu Nation of Labrador and all the Innu communities from the Québec region.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government says everyone has “express(ed) an interest in engaging in a dialogue,” around herd management.
“All parties recognize the importance of the need to work together to ensure the long term sustainability of the herd and it is anticipated that initial discussions between the two provinces and UPCART representatives will commence in the near future,” the statement reads.
The Quebec Court of Appeal has just issued a ruling about that government’s handling of caribou sport hunting levels in 2011, for the George River herd and the Leaf River herd in Nunavik, about the rights of Inuit, Cree and Naspaki in northern Quebec.
The Telegram has yet to review the ruling. Yet, according to a news release issued by the Grand Council of the Crees Monday, the Quebec government opted to allow sport hunting of George River caribou, even as aboriginal advisers were seeking a prohibition.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has dedicated funding for research into the herd, launching a three-year, $1.9-million data collection program in 2011.
“As a government we know this herd is of critical importance to the people of Labrador and we have made significant investments into enhanced management, increased biological monitoring and improved collaboration with the province of Quebec,” said Vaughn Granter, Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of environment and conservation, in a news release.
“Even with the implementation of a five-year moratorium on all hunting, and infusions of funding for monitoring and research, the herd continues to struggle.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador five-year moratorium was announced in January 2013.