Caribou numbers plummet in eastern Canada

The George River caribou herd has been declining for years. (iStock)
The George River caribou herd has been declining for years. (iStock)
Biologists are alarmed at the precipitous decline in the George River caribou population roaming the eastern provinces of Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

A July photo survey found there were 14,200 caribou down from 27,000 in 2012, and 74,000 in 2010. In the 1980s, the numbers were between 700,000 and 800,000.

Biologists call the decline “devastating” and “a really big crash” and will investigate what they suspect are multiple causes. Severe hunting restrictions have already been imposed and resource extraction has been limited.

Historically, caribou herds have declined and later rebounded. But biologists are worried this herd may decline further before it grows again.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Dene elder refuses to pay fine for caribou hunt, CBC News

Finland:  Reindeer glitter to improve road safety in Finland, Yle News

Norway: Blog – Reindeer migration (by boat!) in Arctic Norway (VIDEO), Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Bear hunt quota worries reindeer herders in Sweden’s Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States: Wildfires could threaten Arctic caribou herd’s winter habitat: study, Alaska Dispatch

Lynn Desjardins, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Lynn has dedicated her working life to journalism. After decades in the field, she still believes journalism to be a pillar of democracy and she remains committed to telling stories she believes are important or interesting. Lynn loves Canada and embraces all seasons: skiing, skating, and sledding in winter, hiking, swimming and playing tennis in summer and running all the time. She is a voracious consumer of Canadian literature, public radio programs and classical music. Family and friends are most important. Good and unusual foods are fun. She travels when possible and enjoys the wilderness.

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