By Tim Jones, Editor
In 1989, on my first hunt for Québec caribou, I had the chance to talk at length over several days with Stanley Annanack, then over 80 years old and a much-respected elder of the Kangiqsualujjuaq (George River) Inuit community.
Stanley told me that "every three fathers" (roughly 60 to 90 years), the caribou would grow thin and sickly and would retreat to the "caribou house," where they could grow strong again and return so humans could once again hunt them.
That perfectly describes the cyclical nature of caribou populations around the world. What has changed is the ability to travel easily across the northern landscape and target caribou with modern weapons anywhere, any time. There is no longer a "caribou house" for the animals to retreat to.
Right now, caribou populations are generally declining across North America. Editor-at-Large Mike Bodenchuck tells us, "Biologists are scrambling to uncover and reverse the causes. Unfortunately, there is no one clear cause. The collapse of the caribou herds in Québec is likely partially related to habitat changes caused by recent overpopulation and partially related to natural predation and subsistence hunting. Easier access to wintering grounds and a generation of hunters with expectations of harvesting unlimited caribou from huge herds makes it easy to overhunt caribou."
Unfortunately, nonresident sport hunting is always the first to be eliminated, perhaps because it's easiest to control, and because doing so carries the least political consequence....