By Tim Jones, Editor Editor's Note: On December 21, Québec announced the suspension of all sport hunting for caribou starting in 2018. The 2017 season is the last for the foreseeable future. We alerted Email Extra subscribers to this development on December 23 and followed up on January 11 with news that one outfitter still had 33 caribou tags available and was still booking hunts. Since then we've been digging deeper to bring you this report. If you're interested in a Québec caribou hunt during this final season, we have updated information on page 4.
Bowing to vocal and public demands from First Nations (Innu, Cree, Inuit and Naskapi) in the province, Québec's Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks (MFFP) unexpectedly announced on December 21 that all sport hunting of the migratory Leaf River herd will end after the 2017 season. A total of 739 hunting licenses good for one caribou each will be issued for the trophy hunt in Zone 23 West in 2017. The release notes that the Leaf River herd declined considerably over the last several years. According to a census carried out during the summer of 2016, the Leaf River herd now "numbers less than 199,000 animals." You can see the press release here
. As continuing readers know, the population was thought to be around 380,000 animals as recently as fall 2014.
This latest action follows the closure of all sport hunting for the George River herd in 2012 due to the significant decline in numbers of that herd. Since then, the Leaf River herd has been the only one open to sport hunting and aboriginal harvest in Québec.
Not surprisingly, the remaining handful of caribou outfitters in Zone 23 West are shell-shocked. They were given little, if any, notice of an action that will destroy outfitting businesses, some of which have been operating for 30 years or more. They are exploring ways to possibly reverse the ban but without much hope. Several had to cancel hunts donated for auction at this year's major hunting shows....