Seven woodland caribou were born in captivity in 2022

Seven woodland caribou will be born in captivity in 2022

DAY

The woodland caribou herds of Charlevoix and Val-d'Or, penned up this winter due to their endangered species status, now have seven new calves.

In Charlevoix, six of seven pregnant females gave birth in captivity last month, the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks said on Monday.

Even if one of the six fawns did not survive, the other five are 'doing well' and are observed daily at the feeders with their mothers.

These five fawns are added to the 16 woodland caribou of Charlevoix put in a 20-hectare (0.2 km2) enclosure in February 2022.

 

There are now a total of 21 animals, or 12 adults, four juveniles and five fawns, while the population of these deer has continued to decline in the region since the 1990s.

As Elsewhere in Quebec, biologists believe that this decrease is mainly due to the degradation of woodland caribou habitat.

The increase in its predators – wolves, black bears and coyotes –, the construction of forest roads on its territory and the logging in the boreal forest are among the nuisances to the species.

As in Val-d'Or woodland caribou also in captivity, two pregnant females gave birth in May. The two fawns are healthy and join the seven woodland caribou in this herd.

A life in captivity

A specialist in the management and conservation of wildlife and habitats, Jean-Pierre Tremblay calculates that the Charlevoix herd will double in size every three or four years at this birth rate.

However, he wonders on the future of these caribou in captivity when it will take “40, 50 or even 60 years before restoring suitable habitat” to their survival in kind.

“Placing animals in enclosures comes with duties, including establishing a recovery plan for their habitat and ensuring that we will be able to release them eventually. As long as we don't do that, it's a zoo,” says the Université Laval biology professor.

Such a recovery and release strategy has not yet been made public by the ministry, which the Association des biologistes du Québec also deplores. Its publication, initially scheduled for 2021, has been postponed to 2023.

In this context, Alain Branchaud, director general of the Society for Nature and Parks (SNAP Quebec), believes that resources should be focused on the protection of the territory rather than on breeding in captivity.

” What's the point of trying to keep lifeless herds on life support since the government really has no intention of protecting their habitat and stopping logging in this area? ” asks the trained biologist.

Remember that the protection of woodland caribou in Quebec is strongly criticized by the federal government, which considers the province's efforts insufficient.

Last April, Minister Steven Guilbault even threatened to adopt an unprecedented decree that would allow the federal government to protect the 32,000 square kilometers of deer habitat itself, for a maximum of five years.

– With the QMI Agency

An independent commission evaluated last March that there were only 5,252 woodland caribou left in Quebec, while the ministry estimated until recently that they were between 6,500 and 8,000.