UPDATE: Five-year hunting ban on George River caribou

Andrew Robinson
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The provincial government is implementing a five-year ban on hunting the George River caribou herd.

Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Hedderson told reporters that the herd has dwindled down to less than 20,000 animals.

In July 20,000, government estimated there were more than 70,000 caribou in the herd, and in the late 1980s there were approximately 800,000.

Both Hedderson and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Felix Collins said the ban was a necessary move.

Collins said meetings with aboriginal groups have been held over several weeks on the matter.

Justice Minister Darin King said fish and wildlife officers will be on the ground to monitor the situations. Vehicles and helicopter may also be used if needed, and the minister said a plan is in place to deal with large groups who choose to not obey the ban.

There are concerns the Innu Nation is not willing to comply with the ban. Hedderson said Labrador MHA Nick McGrath had two recent conversations with its leader concerning the ban.

Hedderson said government is looking at alternative options for food sources I light of the ban.

For more on this story, read Tuesday's edition of The Telegram.



Earlier story

The continuing decline of the George River caribou herd has prompted the provincial government to initiate an immediate ban on all caribou hunting in Labrador for conservation purposes for a period of five years, with a review after two years.

Recent census results, as well as biological information gathered and ongoing population modeling, indicate the herd currently stands at less than 20,000 caribou, representing a decline of more than 70 per cent since the July 2010 estimate of 74,000.

 “The George River herd continues to experience a very serious decline and strong action is required by our government to address the immediate and long-term protection of this important resource,” Tom Hedderson, minister of environment and conservation, told reporters today at Confederation Building.

“Our first priority is conservation of these animals, and that is why we are imposing a total ban on this herd. George River caribou have shown a continued steep decline in the latest survey results, and a continued harvest is simply not sustainable at this point in time," Hedderson said. "The goal of today’s decision is central to all people of Labrador to help ensure that the George River caribou will be here for future generations. Given the biological information that we have, we must do our part and work together to ensure the herd’s existence.”

Hedderson was joined at the news conference by Felix Collins, minister of intergovernmental and Aboriginal affairs and the Justice Minister Darin King.

While migratory caribou populations are known to cycle naturally over a period of 50 to 70 years, the cause of the current and continued decline of the George River caribou herd is not clear. Information acquired through the province’s ongoing Caribou Health Monitoring Program indicate low pregnancy rates, and tracking of radio-collared caribou continues to suggest high adult mortality, estimated at approximately 30 per cent annually.

For full story, see Tuesday's Telegram


Geographic location: George River

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Recent comments

    February 03, 2013 - 20:38

    Is it over hunting that is destroying the Caribou herd or Wolves? or something that is unknown such as a sickness, or something els doing it ?

  • tradition vs reality
    January 29, 2013 - 18:41

    I have no problem with the Innu hunting as much as they want, no limitations, in a "traditional hunt." In other words: No guns. No factory made weapons. No motorized vechiles in the hunt. No store bought tools to butcher. No freezers or fridges. No electricity to cook the meat. No glass plates or metal dinnerware. In other words: If you want to hunt like the rest of us, you obey the rules like the rest or us.

    • Rod Mckenzie
      February 02, 2013 - 09:31

      Why don't you just wipe us off the face of the earth then your government and you will be happy. We didn't want this, when the first white man met with the first INDIAN when he pulled in with his boat and said Hello. The INDIAN replied right away kanata, which means don't go there and he misunderstood. OH! This is Canada my land now. Your Government does not say nor blame themselves when they emitted 3000 licences for recreational hunting, plus the NFLD/LAB residents and those who had the licences to harvest caribou. Do the math, we kill 200 - 350 caribou a year which we eat. This is our diet. So talk to your Government first about the facts i gave you and don't be to quick to judge. Happy Huntings.

  • Scott Free
    January 28, 2013 - 20:00

    HEHEHEHEHEE; HAHAHAHAHAHA. no, no , no....that's been looked after; they've all been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; that's what then Ministers of the Clown Dunderdale and Johnston said when the great Quebec Innu hunters, stewards of the environment, slaughtered hundreds of the herd. an update on that file please.

  • Duffy
    January 28, 2013 - 18:41

    Just more government BS-BS-BS from MHA's that are looking for their 5 minutes of fame. The Indians slaughtered Caribou before as the Game Enforcement Officials took pictures and then did nothing to enforce the laws. Two years in a row they did not have the fortitude to do anything - why even go up there. Now we are suppose to think this is different ? Why not just say that there is a 5 year ban on hunting Caribou for everyone except the Quebec Indians or whatever you are suppose to call them at this specific time in "political correctness" history. Push too hard and one may go on a hunger strike and demand to see the Prime Minister. The NL Innu seem responsible at this time but will also hunt if they feel like it as it is their tradition - except they now use high powered snowmobiles, rifles, gps and sat. telephones. Bitter - you bet as we all own this land and obey the laws.

  • Eli
    January 28, 2013 - 15:57

    And the Innu will flaunt it just like last year and the government will do shag-all to the lawbreakers. Can't offend our "first nations" my dear.

  • Virginia Waters
    January 28, 2013 - 15:35

    .... and who's going to stop the herd from being decimated during the period of the year it spends in Quebec?

  • wavy
    January 28, 2013 - 15:27

    The government can make all the laws they like but if they're not going to be enforced, they are useless. A ban is a ban but, if past behaviour is any indication, the hunters will continue with their infractions and ignore any law or ban that prohibits them from taking these animals. These hunters are well-aware of the law and the fact they are breaking it; they simply don't care for anyone telling them what they can and cannot do with what they perceive is their birthright. I hope the govenment has included that in their calculations. This might get ugly.