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Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 8, 2018

 

For Immediate Release

 

Current Wildlife Minister Seems Less Committed to Science-Based Management of Caribou

 

Jim Lester, Opposition Critic for Lands and Wildlife, said, “Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne's recent statements on the conservation of Labrador caribou seem to indicate a Liberal shift in policy and little commitment to science-based management of depleted caribou herds.”

 

Minister Byrne's comments are a departure from comments made in a news release issued on February 2, 2017 by former Environment and Conservation Minister (and current Speaker) Perry Trimper:

 

who stated: “The need for conservation of the George River Herd and all caribou in Labrador is paramount.” http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2017/env/0202n03.aspx

 

and: “Biologists advise that the harvesting ban is essential at this time. Otherwise, the herd could become so small within three to five years it will lose its capacity to recover. http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2017/env/0202n03.aspx

 

The former Minister told the media:

 

he had “a grave concern; http://cbc.ca/1.3435866

 

“Any hunting right now is a concern. We're just asking for everyone's co-operation to leave the herd alone right now.” http://cbc.ca/1.3435866

 

and: “we're very concerned that we are very quickly moving to that point of no return. http://cbc.ca/1.3568316

 

On October 24, 2017, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada recommended the George River and Torngat Mountains Caribou Herds be listed as endangered under the provincial Endangered Species Act. http://registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=8CF7461F-1&p...

 

On January 30, 2018, Minister Byrne announced that “the Provincial Government will not be listing the George River and Torngat Mountains caribou herds as endangered at this time.” http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2018/ffa/0130n03.aspx

 

Lester said, “The current Minister – unlike former Minister Trimper – seems to have given up on science. He refuses to make definitive statements about relying on scientific, evidence-based management standards to shape the policies that will protect the caribou herds from collapse.”

 

“Have the Liberals given up on science? Is this the new Liberal policy? Does the Minister believe scientists who say the herds are endangered by unsustainable harvesting practices? Is he prepared to rely on science to manage the herd responsibly for the benefit of future generations?”

 

“The obligation for protecting endangered caribou rests on the shoulders of this Minister and the Liberal government right now. Future generations of aboriginal groups depend on the existence of the caribou herds to support their way of life. What will it take for the Minister to take a decisive, science-based stand to protect the caribou herds, whose numbers have been reduced to a tiny fraction of what they once were? It’s time to start listening to the scientists, paying attention to the evidence, and making sound decisions so the herds aren’t wiped out completely,” said Lester.

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications

 

Office of the Official Opposition, (709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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