Insular Newfoundland Caribou Initiative

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Minster of Environment and Conservation Clyde Jackman announced today that a two-year, $3 million strategy to examine 10 of the major caribou populations in the province will commence this fiscal year.

Minister Jackman said that resource management, conservation and a long-term plan to protect our resources are vital in securing and sustaining the province’s natural heritage. "To that end, more than $1.9 million has been committed this year to proceed with a two-year caribou monitoring program to manage the caribou herd," said Minister Jackman. "The initial year of the program will examine the south coast herds. The northern peninsula herds will be studied in year two."

Recent evidence suggests that many of the major caribou herds on the island are experiencing a population decline. Neither the extent nor the rate of decline, have been ascertained to date. "The big game hunt is of considerable economic and social value to the province," said Minister Jackman. "Ensuring that the management of the hunt is continued in a sustainable manner is of prime importance to the province."

"Our province is known for its magnificence, the sense of connection we have to our environment and to each other, and its potential as one of the best natural heritage sites in the world," said Minister Jackman. "We recognize the need to protect our wildlife, green spaces, parks and wilderness areas and focus on sustaining our environment for generations to come. Last week’s budget goes far in helping achieve our environment and conservation priorities for the next fiscal year."

Minister Jackman noted that government will establish an advisory committee to help guide the development of a caribou strategy, as recommended by the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters’ Association. This multistakeholder committee will consist of representatives from the departments of Environment and Conservation, Natural Resources, and Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the academic community, the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters’ Association and a representative of resident caribou hunters.

The proposed caribou monitoring study will ascertain current population status and spatial distribution of the herds. The study will provide details for reduced recruitment rates among the herds, conduct calf mortality studies throughout the major herds ranges and obtain updated information on adult caribou mortality rates. The study will also provide current range distribution patterns for the protection of critical range components of the herds.

Work will include the acquisition and deployment of both satellite and global positioning radio collars. These collars will form an integral component of the census as well as providing up to date information on range utilization. Animals will be censused using mark recapture methodology.