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Quebec caribou continue to decline

Leaf River Caribou in Kangirsualujuaq, Nunavik. © Felix St-Aubin

Caribou are a mainstay of the traditional diet in Northern Quebec. However, in the last five years, the number of Nunavik’s Leaf River caribou herd has declined to 199,000 animals.

A 2016 Quebec survey found a general decline in the animals’ physical health, likely due to: a deterioration of their habitat and predation by wolves and black bears, the impacts of climate change on the population’s health, including new parasites and predators; and an increase in air traffic and a larger human population. General observations of fewer animals and lower numbers of large male caribou, important contributors to reproductive success but also targeted by trophy sport hunters, have encouraged Makivik and other Indigenous groups in northern Quebec to urge the Quebec government to put an immediate end to its caribou sports hunt.

They say that any delay in cancelling the sports hunt would be detrimental to the food security of the people of Nunavik and if the trend continues, quotas will have to be imposed.

The Quebec government did announce it will close the sports hunt of the province’s migratory caribou to help those species’ declining populations rebound — but not until February 1, 2018, for an “indefinite period”.

Check out the video online on the Leaf River Caribou at: www.thelon.com/2015-leaf-river-caribou-film.htm