Frankly, some of the hunting news coming out of Newfoundland
recently doesn't look good. But if you dig just a little deeper, you discover this destination still offers arguably the finest mixed-bag big-game hunting opportunity in eastern North America. Best of all, there are still openings available for 2012, and 2013 opportunities abound.
Tops on the mixed-bag list for most visiting hunters is woodland caribou, a distinct sub-species with heavier bodies and more compact racks than the migratory animals in neighboring Labrador. While there are still remnant woodland caribou herds in Quebec, and Labrador, Newfoundland offers the only hunting opportunity. For a number of years now, we've reported on the ups and downs of Newfoundland caribou herds. (See Article ID 203
from 1998 when caribou populations were spiking, and Article ID 2079
from 2008, when it appeared the caribou hunting might be closed altogether.) Part of the problem seems to have been the sudden appearance of a new predator on the scene. Coyotes/wolves (what, exactly, they are depends on who you talk to, although wildlife officials insist they are coyotes) either crossed the ice onto the island or were maliciously introduced. Again, depending on who you talk to, the official position of the wildlife department is that they came on their own. Regardless, these predators have had an impact on the caribou herd, particularly on calving success in some areas. Researchers, however, have said that other factors also have played a role in the reduction of caribou numbers.
For now, however, there is good news to report, especially for traveling hunters. Woodland caribou herds on the island seem to have stabilized. Wildlife officials issued 740 permits for 2012, (the same number as in 2011) with 266 of those permits available to nonresidents hunting with outfitters. Yes, overall caribou numbers are down, but so is hunting pressure, and outfitters we talked to who offer caribou have run close to 100 percent success in recent years.....