April 30, 2007
Slaughter Threatens Labrador Caribou Herd
Provincial conservation officers are investigating three separate incidents involving the killing of 39 caribou from the threatened woodland caribou herds of southern Labrador since March. These caribou are protected under Newfoundland and Labradorís Endangered Species Act.
In the most recent incident, remnants of 19 animals from the threatened Lac Joseph caribou herd were discovered at the headwaters of the Romaine River. This follows the killing of 15 animals from the Joir River group, which numbers just over 100, and five from the Birchy Lakes subgroup of the Mealy herd, which is near extinction. In the case of the Romaine River kill, the hunting group took only choice cuts of meat, leaving behind 25 per cent of the caribou meat to rot.
"This flagrant disregard for conservation will have a significant impact on the ability of these herds to recover and is a loss for everyone," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources. "We are very concerned about this level of hunting activity involving our protected animals and we are committed to more active enforcement and working with the interest groups in Labrador and along the Quebec Lower North Shore to seek adherence to these recovery efforts and to end to the slaughter of these animals."
The Provincial Government has committed $70,000 in new funding in Budget 2007 for regular routine air patrols of threatened caribou herd territories, as was announced in the Northern Strategic Plan on April 20. The patrols will help officers to intercept illegal hunters before they kill.
The department is working with a broad-based coalition of interest groups in Labrador and Quebec on a Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy. Community meetings have been held in St. Augustine and Sept Isles to reinforce the importance of conservation and only hunting herds with healthy populations that can sustain the activity. However, in recent years hunters have been seen in the core wintering range areas of these herds.
"These caribou are an integral part of life for everyone in the region and cooperation is essential to protect these herds and protect a way life," the minister said. "There is a healthy George River herd in the region that hunters can legally harvest to sustain their communities and families, so there is no need for this senseless slaughter. We need the assistance of the people along the Quebec North Shore and the residents of Labrador to come forward with information. Together we can put a stop to this activity."
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Photo #1: Newfoundland and Labrador conservation officers gather remains of 19 caribou from the Lac Joseph herd on April 14, 2007. Unsustainable illegal hunting is pushing some herds towards extinction.
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2007 04 30 11:05 a.m.
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