- Herd size (2022) 7,200 (98% decline since 2001)
The historic range of the George River herd was almost 100,000 km2, from the eastern shore of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec, and the Atlantic coast line in Labrador. That range shrank by about 85% from the late 1990s to the 2010-14 range. It is now almost entirely in Labrador.
The steep decline is blamed largely on degradation of the caribou habitat by an unsupportably large population in the early 1990s, compounded by the factors found in the ‘threats’ section of this site. after a slight bounce back in 2020, the herd once again delined in 2022. In a 2022 news release, the provinical government noted that there was little human development in the cribou range, and that wold numbers are low. It added, "the continued illegal harvest of George River caribou by a relatively small number of people continues to delay and threaten herd recovery".
COSEWIC has recommended listing of the eastern migratory caribou as endangered. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador decided not to list the George River herd provincially “...at the specific request of Indigenous governments and communities in Labrador...”.
Hunting of this herd by non-Indigenous people is now banned. The Cree and Inuit that share the herd have adopted voluntary bans on hunting. In 2022, Innu hunters who also used the herd were "gifted" the opportunity to take caribou from the Leaf River herd on Cree territory.
Honouring the ways of our ancestors, the Cree and Innu Nations sign a traditional understanding built from the customary values of sharing, sustainable harvest and respect for the caribou
“We’re Made Criminals Just to Eat off the Land”: Colonial Wildlife Management and Repercussions on Inuit Well-Being
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