An alarming decline in the George River caribou herd prompts a debate

December 24, 2010- Source: The Globe & Mail

An alarming decline in the George River caribou herd prompts a debate on how to preserve one of the planet’s most magnificent migrations. Less than 20 years ago, the herd had over 800,000 individuals in the Labrador area and is now down to barely 74,000. The urgency that something needs to be done comes from the Minister of  Nunatsiavut government, who states that it’s the meat for most of the year for the Labrador Inuits. The issue is trying to balance preservation with traditional rights and whether its right or even possible to stop the decline. A century ago, the caribou went through the same cycle of bottoming out which led to famine among the native population. Tom Beauregard, the former chief biologist of the area say that the caribou will break out of this crash once the wolves are gone. Others suggest there is not much that humans can do to stop the crash. The decline has led conservation groups such as the Canadian Boreal Initiative to call for greater focus on habitation protection, which includes more regulations on the hunting of the caribou. Even if the caribou were to bounce back in population, it is a much different world now than it was considering climate change and development as threat.