Caribou decline a ‘disaster’
Dear Mr. French
What a disaster! I read the latest census on the George River herd for 2012 and must say at the rate we are going in this province everything should be extinct in a few years. There are 20,000-plus animals left to the George River caribou herd that was as resent as 20 years ago almost 800,000 strong.
Is the George River caribou well on their way to joining the extinction list with the Newfoundland Beothuk Indian, wolf and Awk. Not to mention our grossly mismanaged cod, caplin, and pine martin. Who in the world has been managing our natural resources since John Cabot? Has anyone in this 21st century learned even a little bit from Newfoundland’s poor environmental track record.
When I read then-environment minister Charlene Johnson’s interview on CBC news about the George River Herd Caribou and the latest 2010 census, I had to comment on that conservation nightmare. With all the technology of the 20th and 21st century I thought do we have another species on the brink of extinction.
The overfishing of our cod and caplin stocks, along with the steady fall of our once-upon-a-time great caribou resource is enough to make anyone with an environmental bone in their body cringe. Are we going to eventually have a moratorium on the caribou like our northern cod? Can it get any worst?
The old count in 2010 of 71,131 caribou in the George River Herd and the now 20,000-plus George River caribou is barely enough to keep the aboriginals of Labrador going, let alone all the other predators that are indigenous to the North. It’s going to take generations for this iconic animal to bounce back to an early 90s level.
The technology that’s sealing the fate of our land and aquatic creatures, should be used much more wisely in the future. To be perfectly honest, no one seems to get it. One generation after the other this province is chipping away at the few wild creatures we have left and their ecosystems.
Even our so called elite in this province have a distorted and evergrowing view of wilderness and what it’s all about. It’s simply shocking in this modern age that this animal has gone down the tube like our northern cod.
For the caribou to survive this population drop all parties involved will have to practice due diligence in the greatest sense of the word. I know people will have a thousand excuses for the demise of our George River caribou, however, it’s the human factor here that I’m implicating as possibly the greatest threat to a caribou comeback.
Like the buffalo hunters of the 19th century who weren’t happy until the last buffalo was shot, some of our 21st century cowboys won’t stop until every caribou, bird and moose is shot. This could possibly be the problem here with the George River herd right now. Sure there are other factors that could have had implications in their demise. I just don’t believe for one minute the wolves, bears and coyotes ate that many caribou in less than 20 years.
Also why did the government of Newfoundland and Labrador wait until the last few George River caribou were left to initiate their so called three-pronged approach and millions of dollars in scientific research?
Unless our conservation officers are going to monitor the herd continually, in the field and in the air, and enforce protective government legislation in 2012, the outlook for the remaining George River Caribou is grim.
Like I said a million times before in previous environmental letters, limited access of human traffic in our remote wilderness areas is the key to protecting these ecosystems and protecting our precious wildlife resource. With the 2012 George River caribou crash and the remote cabin development taking place in Western Bay will we ever learn? Or will wildlife and wilderness areas like George River and Cliffty Pond be continually destroyed one generation after another? Tony O’Leary writes from