Results of the Leaf River Caribou Herd Survey, Quebec

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Minister Simard is closely monitoring the decrease in caribou herd size.

As he had promised, the Minister for Natural Resources and Wildlife, Mr. Serge Simard, released the results of the Leaf River caribou herd (LRH) survey that was conducted in 2011.

Northern Québec and Labrador migratory caribou are grouped in two distinct herds, the LRH and the George River herd (GRH). The latter herd's survey had been conducted in 2010. However, due to adverse weather conditions, it had then been impossible to proceed with the LRH survey.

Thus survey activities on LRH were done in May and July 2011. An analysis of the results shows that the herd totals 430,000 caribou, with a confidence interval of 23%, which is in line with the precision target in this type of wildlife survey. Moreover, the adult survival rate and the annual calf recruitment are low, which indicates that this herd is in a decreasing phase.

"Although the population of the LRH is still relatively large, we must keep exercising care, since biological monitoring indicate that the herd size is decreasing. It is therefore important to maintain very stringent management objectives," said Mr. Simard.

With regards to the GRH, the data collected during biological follow-ups show that the adult survival rate and the annual calf recruitment are very low. The GRH has continued to decline in 2011.

"These recent survey and follow-up results confirm that we must devote specific attention to both herds. We are pursuing our work with the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee. We wish to announce the hunting measures for the 2012-2013 season before mid-December. Of course, these will have to take into account the decreasing size of the herds," concluded Minister Simard.


groovy mike's picture

I have been following the reports of herd population declining.

Like Hunter25, I too hope to hunt caribou at some point in the future so I have been following the reports of caribou herd population declines with some concern.  This not appear to be good news, but rather confirmation of the trend that we have been aware of for some time. 

We all like to think of those endless herds of migrating caribou that we dream of seeing like the endless herds of American bison from the nineteenth century but the caribou herds have been declining for years it seems without any good explanation as to why.  I’m not sure that anyone knows why, but I hope that they recover because I would like to add a few to my trophy wall and table.  I'm guessing that caribou probably very susceptible to decline due to habitat loss.  I understand that they are dependent on the reindeer moss in their diet so if the climate changes or something else affects the moss, then the caribou suffer.  Of course wolf predation affects the herd as well and wolf population management seems to be a hot topic wherever wolves are. 

Thanks for sharing the article and information.  I will be watching for any additional updates as this situation unfolds in the months and years to come.  Please continue to keep us posted as the information becomes available.  I'm only a few hours drive from Quebec and if I hunt caribou it is very likely that I would do it in Quebec so I appreciate the updates!

Retired2hunt's picture

  Obviously if the herds are


Obviously if the herds are decreasing at an alarming rate a major change in the management plan of these animals is in need.  430,000 animals is a large herd and one of the two main herds here.  Alberta's Caribou population at last report I found was around a mere 3,000 animals.  The animal is a great resource for the country in whole.  The proper management change wil allow for these herds to grow again.

There are many that state the decline of the Caribou is a hoax and that the science behind determining the proper population is flawed.  One article I read stated that the population data is based primarily on calving gounds and that the split of herds is not being taken into consideration when determining a herd's real popluation.

Regardless the country needs to ensure the right science is being used to drive their management program decisions.  I for one would like to be able to hunt Caribou sometime in the future.  Having a healthy Caribou herd population countrywide ensures that all who want may have that opportunity... and continue a great revenue resource at the same time.


hunter25's picture

I have been reading about the

I have been reading about the decreasing caribou herds nearly everywhere they are found for quite awhile now and it's really concerning. I don't know if I will ever get a chance to go after one due to funds but it's a great dream and hopefullly there will always be enough left when I get the chance. It does not say why they think they are on the downswing but at least they are watching them and making recovery plans. I have always read that habitat loss or change affects the caribou worse than nearly any other animal. Predation can play a big role as well. Hopefully they get it all figuredout and the herds can recover to the numbers they have traditionally enjoyed.