Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) has announced that Quebec will suspend sport hunting of caribou indefinitely starting in 2018. This news comes after public demands from First Nations peoples in the province, including the Innu, Cree, Inuit and Naskapi, to end all sport hunting of the migratory Leaf River Herd, which has declined considerably over the last several years. 739 hunting licenses will be issued for the trophy hunt in Zone 23 West in 2017, according to a press release issued on December 21.
The press release states, “Sport hunting of the George River herd was closed in 2012 due to the significant decline in numbers. Since then, the Leaf River herd has been the only one to sustain sport hunting and Aboriginal harvesting in Québec. According to an inventory carried out in the summer of 2016, Leaf River numbers have also continued to decline and the herd now comprises less than 199,000 animals.”
As readers know, the population was thought to be around 380,000 animals as recently as fall of 2014.
Outfitters in Zone 23 West say that they have not had any opportunity to respond to the ban as yet. Alain Tardiff of Leaf River Lodge (www.leafriverlodge.com) tells us, “Right now we are asking a lot of questions but getting very few answers. We intend to meet with the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks sometime soon, but we don’t know when that will be. For some of us, it is 30 years of hard work going up in smoke.”
Anyone with a Quebec-Labrador caribou on their wish list will want to contact an outfitter right away, as 2017 may be the last opportunity to hunt these animals for the foreseeable future (no hunting opportunities exist in Labrador). Our database is an excellent resource for find a caribou outfitter who can deliver. We will follow up with an additional email bulletin if more news becomes available. Stay tuned. – Justin Jones, Assistant Editor