Is Quebec Caribou Hunting About to Close?


Published: January - 2011

Is Quebec caribou hunting about to close? Continuing subscribers already know from our E-mail Extra alerts and from articles we've published (see December issue, page 11,) that the George River caribou herd in Quebec and Labrador is in decline. The combined George River and Leaf River caribou herds were once described as the largest aggregation of free-ranging ungulates outside of Africa. But now the official 2010 census estimates the current population at just 74,131 animals (and some observers feel that number may be optimistic). As a point of reference, the 1993 census placed the population at 776,000 animals  and most observers then felt that number was conservative.

Labrador, which traditionally has had very little non-resident caribou hunting, took immediate and decisive action, first stopping all hunting, then, later, severely curtailing resident hunting opportunities and completely suspending all commercial hunting  including all nonresident caribou hunting with outfitters.

Quebec, however, took no immediate action, leaving outfitters and hunters alike in a state of suspended animation. On December 21, all the interested parties gathered for a meeting. Parties present included representatives of the Quebec Outfitters Association, Quebec Wildlife, which is charged with managing all game species, and the signatories of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, including the Quebec government, and representatives of the Inuit communities and Cree and Naskapi Native Communities.

A proposal floated before that meeting was to allow outfitters (most based in Schefferville) who hunt the George River herd to continue operating through 2011 (perhaps with only one caribou per hunter), but would limit each operator to only the number of licenses actually issued in 2010. This would allow outfitters to clear any backlog of hunters who had already paid deposits on hunts, or who had not taken caribou and were offered a return hunt.

What's truly stunning is the fact that the meeting produced NO decision (or, at least, no decision that has been publicly announced). Supposedly the parties will convene again "sometime in January." This, of course, left Quebec outfitters in general........(continued)

 
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