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Environment and Conservation
Executive Council
January 28, 2013

Hunting Ban Announced on George River Caribou Herd

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,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Environment and Conservation “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. 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.”

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.

“We have heard from many Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders about the significance and importance of caribou to the people of this region,” said the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister for Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs. “We commend the stance the Nunatsiavut Government and the NunatuKavut Community Council have already taken in terms of recommending no hunting this year for conservation purposes. We will continue dialogue with all Aboriginal groups in Labrador as we take this necessary action to protect the George River caribou herd.”

The Provincial Government will continue to monitor the George River herd, assess the population on an annual basis, and continue to work closely with Aboriginal groups while it proceeds with protecting this herd. Given the importance of caribou to the dietary requirements of the Aboriginal peoples of Labrador, the Provincial Government will help ensure their sustenance requirements are being met.

“Our Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officers are on the ground in Labrador and will monitor the area for any problems that may arise as they do elsewhere in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said the Honourable Darin King, Minister of Justice. “We work very closely with the RCMP and the RNC as well as the Department of Environment and Conservation in all areas of the province and will continue to do so. We must all do our part to ensure the future is secure for these animals.”

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Media contacts:

Melony O’Neill
Director of Communications
Department of Environment and
709-729-2575, 689-0928
Roger Scaplen
Director of Communications
Intergovernmental and Aboriginal
Labrador Affairs Office
709-729-1674, 697-5267

Luke Joyce
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 725-4165

2013 01 28                         4:25 p.m.

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