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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Research Spotlight Series: Wildlife Evolutionary Ecology Lab

By Quinn Webber, Mike Laforge, Eric Vander Wal Posted February 27, 2018 Editor's Note: In our Research Spotlight Series we shine a light on exciting research going on in our province. In this post we showcase the Wildlife Evolutionary Ecology Lab. Caribou on Fogo Island in summer 2017 (Photo by Quinn Webber) The Wildlife Evolutionary Ecology Lab (WEEL) at Memorial University (MUN) studies a range of mammal species in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), as well as across Canada. The majority of our research in NL focuses on the province’s woodland caribou populations. Specifically, we study questions about caribou ecology that bridge fundamental and applied biology with an aim to contribute to our understanding of caribou ecology as well as inform management and conservation practices. Currently, there are two Ph.D. students in WEEL studying caribou: Quinn Webber and Mike Laforge. Quinn studies social behaviour of caribou on Fogo Island with a particular…

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Time to Act on Biodiversity and Species at Risk in Newfoundland and Labrador

Red-necked Phalarope  is a small shorebird that appears to be in decline. This species is proposed to be listed Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act. (Photo By Elma from Reykjavík [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons) According to Nature Canada’s calendar, May 20th is “Endangered Species Day”. Established by the United States Congress in 2006 (, it is not  officially recognized in Canada. However, we do recognize May 22nd , the International Day for Biological Diversity, which celebrates the International Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), finalized by the United Nations in 1992. As a signatory to the CBD, Canada has set specific goals and targets to be attained by 2020. Included is the following: (Target 2.) “By 2020, species that are secure remain secure, and populations of species at risk listed under federal law exhibit trends that are consistent with recovery strategies and management plans” ( The federal Species at Risk Act (or…

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