The Current State and Uncertain Future of Labrador Migratory Caribou

By John Jacobs, CPAWS-NL Posted March 10, 2018 George River Caribou approach Mistastin Lake on their 2007 fall migration (Photo by J. Jacobs). Labrador is noted for its diverse populations of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and for the indigenous peoples who have coexisted with the caribou for millennia. Most, if not all, Labrador caribou herds are in decline. While in the past caribou numbers have declined then recovered, the present situation may be different. There are a number of new threats, and although a regime of scientific monitoring and management is in place, it may not be working. Indigenous groups have the greatest stake in the conservation of the herds, but there is disagreement among them about their role. From a conservationist perspective, what does the future hold for these iconic animals? Current wildlife science distinguishes between migratory and sedentary caribou populations (Wildlife Division, 2010). Labrador’s three sedentary herds, Lac Joseph,…

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