The Environment Ministry revealed on Monday that it is investigating the killing of a female caribou that was released two months ago from an enclosure built to protect the species in the Caspian Sea.
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• Read more: Caribou populations in the Gaspési continue to decline
The slaughtered caribou was wearing a telemetry collar. This is one of the women captured and kept in captivity during the winter of 2023. She was released along with the other women in late August after recommendations from an external scientific advisory board. Ministry of Defense explained in a press release. Wildlife of Quebec.
Wildlife officials began an investigation into the animal’s death on October 15, specifically with the help of a dog handler and a drone pilot. They finally met the suspects on October 18 and seized the caribou meat.
The Gaspésie Mountain caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence River—numbered between 700 and 1,500 in the 1950s—is now down to a handful of individuals. During the last census of 2021, the population was estimated at 38.
Last March, six women, including two pregnant women, were captured and placed in an enclosure to protect them from poachers. However, a female and two cubs born in the enclosure died in the following months.
In August, the remaining five females, including the one killed by poachers, were released so that they could “contribute to the population’s reproductive efforts in the wild by 2023,” the ministry explained.
In addition to mountain caribou in the Gaspési, forest caribou north of the St. Lawrence are also threatened with extinction. Survivors of the Val-d’Or and Charlevoix herds were kept in enclosures while the rest of the population was closely monitored.
A hunter who kills a wildland caribou can be fined $20,000 or $40,000 for repeat offenses.
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