The Nunavut Government has announced a new quota for Southampton Island caribou harvested in Coral Harbour.

The harvest will be limited to 1,000 animals per year.

In a written statement, Nunavut Environment Minister James Arreak said this was the only way to safeguard the caribou for future generations.

"We regret having to take such drastic measures as to limit the harvest, however this is the only way that we can quickly and adequately address the problem," he said.

In the same release, Coral Harbour Hunters and Trappers Chair Noah Kadlak agreed.

He said fewer and fewer caribou have been seen in the past few years.

"The (Hunters and Trappers Organization) board would like to see something done about this before it is too late, and there are no caribou left on the island."

Nunavut Government studies show the herd declined from 30,000 in 1997 to 7,800 in 2011.

Under the territory’s Wildlife Act, the minister can make immediate conservation decisions in unusual or emergency circumstances.

The Environment Department did an aerial survey of the herd in June. The updated population estimates should be released later this month. The government plans to present them to the Hunters and Trappers Organization and use the numbers to make longer-term management decisions.

This interim measure goes into effect immediately.