Makivik Corp calls for end to sport hunting of Quebec's Leaf River caribou

Nunavik's Makivik Corporation is calling on the Quebec government to stop the sport hunting of a rapidly declining caribou herd.

Quebec gov't planning to close sport hunt of declining herd in 2018

The population of the Leaf River caribou herd in Northern Quebec has dropped to less than half what it was five years ago. (Luc Gervais)

Nunavik's Makivik Corporation is calling on the Quebec government to stop the sport hunting of a rapidly declining caribou herd.

In five years, the Leaf River herd's population has dropped by half. The latest estimate pegs the herd at 199,000 caribou, down from around 430,000 in 2011.

"We have been advocating for a complete closure of the sports hunt, but the Minister from Quebec, the Minister of wildlife and parks, has only committed for a complete closure for the 2018-2019 sports hunt," said Makivik's executive vice-president Adamie Delisle Alaku.

"Caribou are a mainstay of our traditional diet. Caribou cannot be replaced by nutritionally poor quality food equivalents imported from the south and sold at exorbitant prices in Nunavik," he added in a statement.

Makivik says it's been calling for an end to the sport hunt for more than six years, but the corporation says it took the Quebec Government three years to stop the sport hunt of another herd, the George River caribou — whose population was estimated to be around 8,900 last year.

"It is now squarely in Quebec [forests, wildlife and parks] minister Luc Blanchette's court to do the right thing," the statement read.

Cree leaders in Quebec have also been calling for an end to the sports hunt of the Leaf River herd.

This year, sport hunters are allowed to harvest up to 2,732 animals in Inuit and Cree territory.

with files from Madeleine Allakariallak, Jamie Little and Christopher Herodier