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:

The former Minister told the media:

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.

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.

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