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Island caribou population not at risk for extinction, report says

Caribou
Caribou

While Newfoundland’s caribou population has been declining in the last decade, the provincial government says there’s no evidence to indicate any risk of extinction.

Environment and Conservation Minister Dan Crummell released a report today on the island of Newfoundland’s caribou population, summarizing a five-year caribou research and management initiative.
The minister said the report outlines key considerations for sustainable caribou management on the island of Newfoundland which will help guide future activities in the management of this important resource.
Newfoundland’s island caribou population declined from a peak of about 94,000 animals in the late 1990s to a population of about 32,000 by 2013. The caribou study has determined that the population decline occurred because the peak population was unsustainably high.
 The report says evidence suggests that food quality and/or availability was the primary limiting factor to caribou populations.
Researchers found adult and calf caribou became smaller, the quality of the caribou diet decreased and female caribou began to search for food in areas that increased the likelihood of encountering predators such as bear and coyote. The prevalence of small calves living in risky habitat further increased vulnerability to predators.
The report says there is no evidence that the Newfoundland caribou population is at risk of extinction. Once food resources recover, the caribou population is expected to increase in number.
“The provincial government is committed to sustainable management of caribou on the island of Newfoundland today and for future generations, Crummell said in a news release. “The integration of these findings and considerations into management practice will enable government to work, in collaboration with our stakeholders, in a proactive manner."
In 2008, the province announced $15.3 million in funding for a scientific research and management initiative for the island caribou population. A Caribou Resource Committee, made up of government and non-government representatives, was established for information exchange and discussion. A team of academics with expertise in predator-prey relationships and a team of researchers from various North American universities, including Memorial University, provided scientific advice on research design and evaluation.
Both the full and summary reports are available online at www.gov.nl.ca/env.

Environment and Conservation Minister Dan Crummell released a report today on the island of Newfoundland’s caribou population, summarizing a five-year caribou research and management initiative.
The minister said the report outlines key considerations for sustainable caribou management on the island of Newfoundland which will help guide future activities in the management of this important resource.
Newfoundland’s island caribou population declined from a peak of about 94,000 animals in the late 1990s to a population of about 32,000 by 2013. The caribou study has determined that the population decline occurred because the peak population was unsustainably high.
 The report says evidence suggests that food quality and/or availability was the primary limiting factor to caribou populations.
Researchers found adult and calf caribou became smaller, the quality of the caribou diet decreased and female caribou began to search for food in areas that increased the likelihood of encountering predators such as bear and coyote. The prevalence of small calves living in risky habitat further increased vulnerability to predators.
The report says there is no evidence that the Newfoundland caribou population is at risk of extinction. Once food resources recover, the caribou population is expected to increase in number.
“The provincial government is committed to sustainable management of caribou on the island of Newfoundland today and for future generations, Crummell said in a news release. “The integration of these findings and considerations into management practice will enable government to work, in collaboration with our stakeholders, in a proactive manner."
In 2008, the province announced $15.3 million in funding for a scientific research and management initiative for the island caribou population. A Caribou Resource Committee, made up of government and non-government representatives, was established for information exchange and discussion. A team of academics with expertise in predator-prey relationships and a team of researchers from various North American universities, including Memorial University, provided scientific advice on research design and evaluation.
Both the full and summary reports are available online at www.gov.nl.ca/env.

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