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Caribou: herds are stable at best in Canada and Alaska this year.

The largest caribou herd in Canada is found in the eastern provinces of QUEBEC and LABRADOR and is estimated to number a million animals covering an area the size of France. The herd remains stable, and there are no changes in rules or regulations, according to Quebec's Gaston Cayer. "Four out of five licensed caribou hunters fill their tags, and last year that added up to 22,752 animals. The hunting this fall should be at least as good as last season."

Kuujjuaq (Ft. Chimo), Schefferville and a small landing strip near the Caniapiscau River are the main jump-off points for Quebec-Labrador caribou hunters.

The second most sought after caribou is located basically on Baffin Island and the mainland of the NORTHWEST TERRITORIES. According to NWT's Susan Fleck, the 2003 census of the Bathurst herd stands at 186,000, but she says the population trend is declining based on recently completed spring cow-calf composition counts. There are no changes in rules or tag allocations for 2005. Last fall, a total of 1,297 tags were issued to nonresidents. Where to go? The Humpy Lake region, north of Yellowknife, continues to be hot with its sixth world record tagged in 2004.

NEWFOUNDLAND is home to the woodland caribou, and the province is experiencing a slight decline in population. "The Middle Ridge herd now numbers just under 15,000 but is dropping--as are the success rates," says the province's Rob Otto. There is not a good estimate on the Grey River herd, but success rates dropped significantly there last fall. The Lapoile herd remains stable with 3,000 animals and only a slight decrease in success rates reported.

"There are no recent herd estimates in either CMU 69 of the Gaff Topsails region, but caribou here are thought to be doing reasonably well even though hunters are experiencing a slight decrease in success rates."

Overall success rates have dropped from an average of 80 percent to a low of 60 percent the last few years. Nonetheless, there are no changes in rules or regulations slated for this fall.

Mountain caribou can be found only in BRITISH COLUMBIA, ALBERTA, southcentral YUKON and the Mackenzie Mountains of the NORTHWEST TERRITORIES. Often thought of as "bonus" animals, they are often taken as targets of opportunity when hunting moose, elk or bear.

"Trophy bulls can be found almost anywhere within their range," says the Yukon's Rick Ward, "but your odds are best if you hunt them exclusively in the southcentral region of the Yukon. The Tay River, Red Stone and Bonnet Plume herds are stable with populations of 4,000 to 10,000 animals each, but several smaller herds including the Heart River (2,000) and Wolf Lake (1,200 to 1,400 animals) herds should not be overlooked."

There are no changes in rules or regulations in the Yukon, and the caribou hunting throughout the province should be good to excellent this fall.

ALASKA's Porcupine herd of barren ground caribou is slowly declining, says the state's Steve Arthur--from a high of 178,000 to about 123,000. "Caribou herds fluctuate naturally," says Arthur. "There is no evidence of starvation, disease, unusually high predator populations of excessive hunting to account for the drop in population."

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Title Annotation:2005 Big Game Forecast
Author:Vaznis, Bill
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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