Quebec, December 22nd, 2016 – The Quebec Outfitters Federation (QOF) would like to express its view following the Quebec Government’s Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) announcement on December 21st 2016 that the number of caribou hunting licenses available for the 2017 will be reduced by 50% of the number which were available in 2016. Additionally as of 2018, caribou sport hunting will no longer be permitted.
An aerial survey conducted last summer revealed that there were approximately 199,000 caribou remaining in the Leaf River herd which is a 50% reduction of the 430,000 caribou that were inventoried during the 2011 aerial survey. This reduction in the number of caribou has a dramatic effect on the outfitters who offer caribou hunting considering that they are not responsible for this decline in the size of the herd. In 2005 there were more than 40 caribou hunting outfitters offering their services. Today, only 10 outfitters remain. Each year, the number of caribou hunting permits available has been significantly reduced. In 2014-2015, 5550 caribou hunting permits were available. In 2015-2016, the number of caribou hunting permits available was reduced to 4342. During the past year, the number of permits available was again reduced to 2732 caribou.
The outfitters recognize the importance of caribou for the native populations of Northern Quebec. Caribou has always been at the heart of their customs, traditions, cultural and spiritual way of life. Therefore it is normal that they should have priority access to this resource.
The outfitters presence on the northern territory during a number of months each year has enabled them to actively monitor the condition of the caribou herd. They have been able to evaluate the number of animals, their health condition, increases in the number of predators, etc. Without questioning scientific data, they feel that a number of their questions remain unanswered. What happened to the hundreds of thousands of caribou that disappeared since 2011, notably 100,000 during the past two years? How does one explain that neither guides, nor hunters, nor the outfitters themselves have discovered any hides or carcasses during the months they operated on the land and during the hundreds of hours overflying the Northern Quebec territory?
The closure of Caribou sport hunting: an extreme measure with heavy consequences for Northern Quebec’s economy.
In 2014, the twenty outfitters offering caribou hunting annually generated $13 million dollars in economic development and provided 250 jobs. “The outfitters also enabled the development of camp infrastructure and private transportation. In addition to providing Northern tourism development, the infrastructure and outfitters’ bush planes served other purposes. They enabled mining companies to carry out their prospecting and exploration activities. Hundreds of mine workers are housed in the Northern Quebec outfitters’ camps and native communities also call upon the outfitters’ air transportation services to carry out their community hunts and be transported to their traditional territories. The disappearance of the northern outfitters will have a negative effect on the development of Northern Quebec”, according to Norman Ouellette, President of the QOF Board of Directors and owner of several outfitting camps, one specializing in caribou hunting.
Nevertheless, the QOF welcomes the creation of an inter-ministerial committee to evaluate the economic and social consequences of the decision and to propose measures to reduce the negative impacts. The QOF plans to fully participate in this exercise.
In conclusion, and in spite of the closure of all sport hunting for Quebec-Labrador Caribou, the QOF and its members will continue to work together with the government’s authorities to develop a species management plan to moderate the decline of the caribou populations and find ways to increase the number of caribou in hopes of an eventual reopening of sport hunting. The QOF also hopes that the MFFP and the native communities will adopt rigorous measures controlling the harvest of caribou.