George River caribou numbers drop dramatically

Herd count in July comes in at less than half 2012 estimate

Ashley Fitzpatrick
Published on August 14, 2014
George River caribou are pictured in this file photo.
The Labradorian archives

The George River caribou herd is dying. According to figures issued today by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the population was estimated at 27,600 in 2012 and has since dropped to as few as 14,200 animals.

The latest estimate comes from a “photo census” in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec, in July.

The herd covers an area crossing the provincial border.

“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.

“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,” he said.

Granter pointed to investments into research by the Newfoundland and Labrador government as an effort to halt the herd’s decline. The province launched a three-year, $1.9-million data collection program in 2011.

“Both provinces have initiated discussions on the development of a joint management plan in collaboration with all resource users including Aboriginal governments and organizations,” the statement notes.