Fisheries and Land Resources
May 1, 2018

Federal Government's Focus on Habitat for Caribou Recovery Too Limited in Scope

Environment and Climate Change Canada has released its Progress Report on Unprotected Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou Boreal Population in Canada, which does not reflect the expressed advice of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and does not address the pressing matter of unsanctioned harvesting or other important considerations.

In response the Provincial Government today released Recovery of Boreal Caribou in Labrador, which highlights the fact that unlike almost all other jurisdictions in Canada, the habitat of boreal caribou of Labrador, including the migratory George River herd in northern Labrador and boreal herds of southern Labrador, is effectively pristine. The decline and continued low abundance of these herds has been driven by a combination of natural population cycles, and unsustainable and unsanctioned harvesting.

The Federal Government has employed a one-size-fits-all national strategy, which focuses on habitat protection and range planning rather than addressing the unsanctioned harvest. This has the potential to be counterproductive for the herds in Labrador in that it directs resources to be targeted at what are effectively non-issues for the Labrador herds. 

Boreal herd recovery efforts in Labrador are hampered by the human and financial resource challenges that accompany the vastness and remoteness of the landscape. To maximize their effectiveness, all available resources must be carefully managed and address the primary threat to recovery: unsanctioned harvest. For more detail please see the below backgrounder.

“For many years, provincial officials have identified unsanctioned harvesting as the key threat to boreal caribou herds in Labrador. Despite this clear communication, and at the expense of more relevant recovery actions, almost all Federal Government communications and actions have continued to focus on a habitat threat that does not apply in Labrador. There is an opportunity for success in Labrador that may not exist elsewhere in Canada. This success will only occur if the Federal Government recognizes the need for a regionally-sensitive approach that considers threats beyond habitat.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

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Learn more
Recovery of Boreal Caribou in Labrador: A Report on Government of Canada Support PDF Icon

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Media contact
Linda Skinner
Fisheries and Land Resources
709-637-2284, 632-8167



Steps identified by the Provincial Government for boreal caribou conservation in Labrador

The Federal Government’s Progress Report on Unprotected Critical Habitat for the Woodland Caribou Boreal Population in Canada will once again shift the focus for recovery. The Provincial Government’s response, Recovery of Boreal Caribou in Labrador: A Report on Government of Canada Support, states that boreal caribou conservation in Labrador can only be served by taking these steps:

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada, in all its documents and reporting, must explicitly acknowledge the existence of threats beyond habitat loss. For the relevant regions, reporting should focus on those threats.
  • The Federal Government must make substantial financial resources available to partner with provinces and territories on recovery actions relevant to regional threats. For Labrador, these should be stakeholder engagement, enforcement, monitoring, and research.


2018 05 01                                                    4:45 p.m.