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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It speaks to the out-of-control gas and oil and alteration of the Quebec landscape that the 800,000 George River Caribou herd(1980 population estimate) has been eviscerated to a mere 28,000 animals...........For millenia, they roamed across a habitat roughly the size of England............."It's truly impressive"..... "Unlike anything you've ever seen before," said Steve Coté, a biologist with Quebec-based Caribou Ungava........... "In a way, the northern ecosystem is defined by the presence of caribou"............. "They reshape its vegetation"............ Clans of wolves survive by hunting them".............. "Crows and Arctic foxes live by picking through the carcasses that wolves leave behind"............ "And, of course, the Inuit, Innu and Cree have sustainably hunted the caribou since long before Europeans arrived in North America.".............. Coté is part of a team of university researchers that tracks the George River herd and the much larger Leaf River herd....................The mining companies and the government paid biologists claim the land could not support the caribou and predators added "insult to injury"----ALL B.S. EXCUSES AS ALL GOOD SCIENCE REVEALS MAN ALTERING THE LANDSCAPE HAS THROWN THE SYSTEM INTO DISARRAY, ALLOWING WOLVES AND BEARS ACCESS TO THE HERDS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,AND QUALITY GRAZING GROUNDS DESTROYED BY OUR SO CALLED CIVILIZATION

Ungava's caribou

 population crashes

Ungava’s caribou population crashes

Since its creation in 2009, the Caribou Ungava team has closely tracked the George River caribou migration pattern and the herd's rapidly dwindling population.

Photograph by: JoËlle Taillon , Caribou Ungava

MONTREAL — At its peak, the George River caribou herd
 was among the most expansive groupings of large mammals
 on the planet.
Today, just three decades after its population exceeded
 800,000, there are fewer than 28,000 caribou roaming
 the flatlands between Quebec's boreal forest and the
 coastal mountain ranges of Labrador. And with a further
10,000 expected to die off before year's end, experts
 believe the worst is yet to come.

But all hope may not be lost for the embattled herd
. In the face of disaster, there's been unprecedented
 levels of co-operation among researchers at the
 natural resources ministry, mining companies and
 the aboriginal communities whose survival in the
 unforgiving north has depended on caribou for
 thousands of years.

Even in its depleted state, the George River herd
is a humbling sight to behold.Footage of the caribou
 taken in 2011 shows a group the size of several football
 fields crossing a stream somewhere in the pass between
 Quebec and Labrador.As thousands of them exhale into
 the cold air, a cloud of mist forms above the herd. Their
 hoofs trample and reshape the frozen ground. They can
 graze through untold hectares of moss, lichen and black
pines that sparsely populate the taiga.

Throughout the year, they will roam across a habitat
roughly the size of England."It's truly impressive. Unlike
anything you've ever seen before," said Steeve Coté, a
 biologist with Quebec-based Caribou Ungava. "In a way,
 the northern ecosystem is defined by the presence of
 caribou. They reshape its vegetation. Clans of wolves
 survive by hunting them. Crows and Arctic foxes live
 by picking through the carcasses that wolves leave
behind. And, of course, the Inuit, Innu and Cree have
 sustainably hunted the caribou since long before
Europeans arrived in North America."
Coté is part of a team of university researchers that
 tracks the George River herd and the much larger
Leaf River herd.

The biologists take a census of the caribou populations
, test them for parasites and track their migration patterns.
 Using aerial photography from a helicopter, the group
 painstakingly studies the shots and enters the number
 of caribou they find into an algorithm that determines
the herd's size.

The latest figures confirmed Coté's worst fears: With
a total of 27,600 George River caribou recorded in
 October 2012, the Arctic mammals are in much quicker
 decline than previously believed.

In 1983, official estimates placed the herd's population
at 800,000. By 2010, that number dropped to 74,000.
 Given the low survival rate Coté and his team have
observed, the George River herd could shrink to
18,000 before the end of the year.

"The consensus as to why the caribou began to die off
 is pretty clear," said Serge Couturier, who spent 27
 years studying caribou for the Quebec government
. "When there were 800,000 caribou, the habitat just
 couldn't support it. There were too many mouths to
 feed. So you would start to see calves being born
 undersized, weak, and they wouldn't survive. Instead
 of weighing eight kilograms like they're supposed to,
they'd weigh five kilograms."

To curtail the overpopulation crisis, the government
issued more hunting licences and introduced a winter
hunting season in northern Quebec. There was even
 an attempt to commercially harvest caribou meat
 and sell it in supermarkets across the province.

Despite the new measures, the caribou population
 underwent a violent downward spiral in the 1980s.
 "When we started noticing the crash, I kept warning
 my bosses at the ministry but it often fell on deaf ears,"
Couturier said. "They would keep saying, 'Let's wait for
 the next population study,' but those would only come
 once every decade or so. Meanwhile the situation
 quickly began reaching crisis levels."
Although hunting wasn't the cause of the population
crisis, by 2011 the government saw it as a contributing
 factor. That year, the natural resources ministry issued
 only 500 caribou hunting licences, down considerably
 from the 2,000 awarded the previous year. The ministry
 also imposed a five-year moratorium on hunting the
George River herd.
The irony of the current crisis is that the caribou are
now much healthier than they were 30 years ago.
 Because there's an abundance of vegetation to graze
 in their habitat, calves are born much larger and stronger
 than they were when the herd numbered in the hundreds
 of thousands.

Still, the population continues to dwindle. This is, in part,
 because of hunting but also the increasing presence of
 predators within the George River herd's habitat, according
 to Couturier.As the winter months wind down, caribou migrate
 north away from the forests that house grey wolves and black
 bears. Possibly because of the effects of global warming, wolves
 can stalk caribou much further north than had been previously observed. The same is true with insects and disease-carrying

With billions in government and private funds being invested into exploring the mineral riches of the north, human activities are
 also having a much larger impact on the caribou's habitat than
 ever before.
"If you build a road, caribou won't come within 10 kilometres of it,"
 said Jean-Pierre Tremblay, a Université Laval biology professor
. "Deer and other wildlife will adapt but caribou are really easily
startled. So as the north gets developed, the caribou's migration
 patterns and its ecosystem are affected."

The urgency faced by the George River herd has brought mining companies to the table, ready to donate hundreds of thousands
 in research grants and travel resources to the Caribou Ungava
 project. It has also forced groups within seven Quebec and
 Labrador First Nations communities to give up traditional caribou hunting rights — the caribou hunt fed their communities for over
 3,000 years.

The Labrador Inuit have vowed to stop the hunt for a two-year
 period while the territory's Innu people are restricting their annual
quota to 150 males in each of their two villages. Despite measures
 taken by other First Nations, Quebec's Innu have been slower at
 making concessions.
"Governments failed in their management of the caribou population
 and their protection of our ancestral rights," said Uashatmak Mani-­utenam vice-chief Mike McKenzie. "Once again, a non-aboriginal government will impose its solution on us without consultation."

McKenzie emphasized the sacred relationship between the caribou
 and Quebec's First Nations and insisted the government should
have taken action decades ago. He said he's confident the group
 of seven can reach a solution that preserves their traditional rights
 while protecting the caribou.

"At the end of the day, it's not our job to impose anything on first nations," Coté said."But the only thing we can do right now is to
stop killing the caribou and give them a chance to repopulate."

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