Nfld. & Labrador

Mealy Mountains caribou threatened by illegal hunting

Newfoundland and Labrador government says wildlife division is gathering evidence and charges could be laid.

Multiple reports that endangered caribou herd is being harvested according to the Nunatsiavut Government

George River Caribou spotted outside Nain have dwindling numbers. (Submitted by Brandon Pardy)

The Nunatsiavut Government is sounding the alarm that endangered Mealy Mountains caribou are being harvested in Labrador.

The Mealy Mountains herd, a sub-population of boreal woodland caribou, is listed as an endangered species under federal and provincial species-at-risk legislation.

Hunting the animals has been banned since 2004.

"We have received a number of reports that caribou are being taken by multiple hunters travelling into the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Area, and that there doesn't appear to be any enforcement efforts being carried out to stop the illegal activity," said Nunatsiavut's Lands and Natural Resources Minister Darryl Shiwak, in a news release.

Nunatsiavut's Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Darryl Shiwak says it's frustrating that some groups have chosen to disregard the hunting ban. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Shiwak's news release, issued Tuesday, did not say who was hunting. He said the Newfoundland and Labrador government is responsible for enforcement.

"This is unacceptable, and we would expect action will be taken to ensure the Mealy Mountains caribou are protected," he said in the release.

Province investigating

The provincial Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, Gerry Byrne, said enforcement officers in the wildlife division have been investigating for several days.

Minister Gerry Byrne wants collaborative measures with Indigenous government, Quebec, and the federal government to enforce the caribou ban. (Cal Tobin/CBC)

"Reports of the unsanctioned harvest of Mealy Mountains caribou are deeply disturbing, and further threatens the existence of the herd," said Byrne, in his own news release Wednesday.

"Evidence is being collected, and if warranted, charges will be laid and prosecution pursued."

Byrne said provincial governments, including Quebec, and Indigenous governments must work together to develop a management plan that will ensure the long-term survival of threatened herds.

About the Author

Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.