By Justin Jones, Assistant Editor
Unless something changes, the final season of sport hunting caribou in Québec is done. Québec's Ministry of Forests, Fauna and Parks (MFFP) announced the closure unexpectedly in late Dec. 2016, citing pressure from First Nations stakeholders. We covered the issue in-depth in our Feb. issue (see Articles 3972
). In Aug., we shared a letter from MFFP addressed to those questioning the closure decision and indicating that offtake by First Nations peoples, namely parties to the James Bay Treaty, could not be limited until the province closed the sport hunt (Article 4105
). Aboriginal rights to the caribou certainly complicates the picture, but we continue to express the belief that caribou are better managed as a valuable trophy species than as bushmeat. Hopefully all of the parties involved will eventually reach rational management decisions.
We have heard that outfitters in Québec are negotiating with the First Nations and are more hopeful of a resolution than they were previously. We will continue to follow the situation closely. In the meantime, a few reports from the 2017 season in Zone 23 have reached our offices. Although regulations allowed hunters to purchase two caribou tags, tag numbers were reduced to the point that outfitters generally offered hunts for one caribou only. Yet hunters wanting one more crack at a Québec-Labrador caribou went afield anyway....