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Environment and Conservation
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
August 2, 2011

Delay Announced for the 2011-12 Caribou Hunting Season in Labrador

Concerns with the stability of the George River caribou herd, identified through ongoing research and monitoring efforts by the Department of Environment and Conservation and other stakeholders, will delay the start of the 2011-12 caribou hunting season in Labrador. Scheduled to open on August 10, the season will be postponed while input from various stakeholders regarding the future management of the herd is reviewed. An update on the hunting season and the management plan for the herd will be provided as additional information becomes available.

“The conservation and protection of the George River caribou herd, as well as all wildlife and habitat in the province, remains a priority for our government, and we will delay the opening of the hunting season while we review the valuable input from stakeholders regarding the future management of the herd,” said the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Environment and Conservation. “The Labrador Caribou Management Initiative, which includes building on collaborative working relationships already established with stakeholders, will assist us in achieving a sustainable future for this herd. It is the collective responsibility of government, Aboriginal peoples, resident hunters and trappers, outfitters and the public to ensure that its management and use are undertaken in a sustainable and responsible manner."

In July 2010, a census was conducted on the herd in partnership with the Government of Quebec, Laval University, the Nunatsiavut Government, Torngat Plant and Wildlife Co-Management Board and the Institute for Environmental Monitoring and Research. The census estimated the herd at approximately 74,000 caribou, a decline of 81 per cent compared to the previous estimate of 385,000 in 2001.

“As a government, we must continue to ensure the implementation of necessary management measures for the George River caribou in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders,” said the Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs. “Imposing a delay on the hunting season for the George River herd will provide the necessary time to further analyze data that is continuously being collected relating to the causes of the decline, and help ensure that the long-term future of the herd is supported.”

Budget 2011 Standing Strong: For Prosperity. For Our Future. For Newfoundland and Labrador allocated $1.9 million for a three-year Labrador Caribou Management Initiative. The initiative involves enhanced data collection of the George River caribou herd to help better understand the factors affecting the caribou population. The George River caribou herd migrates between Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec with both provinces responsible for management. Work done under this initiative will complement research on northern caribou herds conducted by other jurisdictions.

Ongoing research and monitoring efforts by the Provincial Government and its partners since the 2010 census suggest that a further population decline is occurring, despite major restrictions on harvesting that were implemented last fall. Any further management action that may be necessary to assist with stabilizing the herd’s decline will be thoroughly analyzed before a final decision is made with respect to future harvests.

“The sustainability of the George River herd is a priority for all Labradorians,” said the Honourable Patty Pottle Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. “Caribou have always been vital to Aboriginal culture, customs and traditions. Feedback from all stakeholder groups is an important component in our management of this herd, as well as taking the appropriate time to understand all of the factors surrounding their decline.”

For more information on wildlife in the province, including the opening and closing dates for hunting seasons, visit www.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/index.html 

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Media contacts:

Melony O’Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and Conservation
709-729-2575, 689-0928
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762

2011 08 02             11:10 a.m.

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