Caribou Face Tough Winter


Member of the George River caribou herd
Credit: Valerie Courtois, Canadian Boreal Initiative

Over the holidays Jeff posted a new guest blog on National Geographic about the plight of the George River caribou herd in northern Quebec and Labrador. This herd, once the largest in the world just decades ago, has plummeted to dangerously low numbers of late, causing concern among the Aboriginal people who have subsided off them for generations and scientists alike. Here’s a short exerpt below – be sure to check out the full post on National Geographic if you want to know more!

It was once our largest caribou herd, and one of the biggest herds of large migratory mammals anywhere in the world.  The George River caribou of northern Quebec and Labrador were surpassed in numbers perhaps only by Africa’s wildebeest. But now their population is perilously small—about 4 percent of its peak. Although migratory caribou, also called reindeer, are known for wide swings in population size, encroachment of industrial development into their habitat puts these animals at increasing risk.

In the late 1940s, the George River caribou herd may have declined to as few as 3,500 animals, and in 1958, a careful census estimated its numbers at 15,000. Historically, when the herd reached these low points, many of the Innu, Cree, and Inuit people, who lived in what is now northern Quebec and Labrador, died from starvation. But the George River caribou herd rebounded with amazing vitality, reaching an astonishing 775,000 animals by 1993, ranging over an area larger than France.

You can read the remainder of the post here:
http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/02/george-river-caribou/

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