As the caribou hunting season in Labrador continues, the Provincial Government is reminding hunters of their responsibility to be familiar with the regulations governing this activity under the Wildlife Act and the Annual Hunting Orders.
Hunters are responsible for knowing which zones are closed to hunting, as well as which zones are open or closed in response to the migratory pattern of the animal. The Department of Environment and Conservation determines the opening and closing of some southern caribou management zones based on the presence of threatened woodland caribou herds. Conservation officers with the Department of Natural Resources monitor for illegal hunting activity.
"Hunters should not blindly follow trails without being aware of their location in respect to open and closed hunting zones," said the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency. "Ignorance is not a defense for hunting in a closed area, or for violating wildlife regulations. Animals taken outside established, open caribou zones are considered to have been harvested illegally and charges will be laid where warranted."
The Labrador Caribou Hunting Zones currently open are the George River, Bay of Islands, Big River, Nipishish Lake, Grand Lake, Seal Lake, Orma North, Orma South, Michikamau East, Michikamau West, Twin Falls, Colville Lake, McPhayden River, Milner Lake, Sawbill Lake and Lac Virot. Only two hunting zones, Mulligan River and Double Mer Barrens, are closed to hunting at this time.
In recent days, conservation officers have encountered hunters claiming to be unaware that they were hunting outside of the open zones. Hunters are advised to confirm the correct boundaries of Labrador Caribou Hunting Zones prior to hunting.
"The management of our herds is a priority for our government, and it is extremely important that hunters be aware of the status and boundaries of established zones," said the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Environment and Conservation. "Our management actions are vital to the sustainability of these herds, as well as all wildlife in the province. I also want to remind hunters to exercise extreme caution at all times and to practice safe and responsible hunting techniques."
Hunting zone descriptions can be found at www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/hnttrapfish/trpmngearea/labrador/caribou/caribou.htm . Hunters can also contact the Department of Environment and Conservation Wildlife Division office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay or Department of Natural Resources offices in Wabush, North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay to obtain additional information on hunting zone openings and boundary descriptions.
Hunters are also reminded that it is illegal and unsafe to discharge a firearm from across a highway, public road, private road or railway. It is also unlawful to discharge or handle a firearm without exercising reasonable care for the safety of others, or to carry a loaded firearm in or on a snowmobile. All hunters are urged to wear blaze orange clothing.
The public is encouraged to report any information on illegal activity harmful to the province’s natural resources to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-363-TIPS (8477). Further information on the caribou hunting regulations is available on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website at www.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/hnttrapfish/index.htm 
Copies of the Wildlife Act and regulations can be found at: www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/statutes/w08.htm