Human activity takes a toll on caribou habitat in Nunavik – by Sarah Rogers (Nunasiaq News – December 14, 2017)

Researchers at Université Laval say human activity in northern Quebec is damaging and reducing the extent of caribou habitat, along with the health of the herds that migrate through Nunavik each year.

A new study attempts to quantify that impact by looking at how the animals have shifted their ranges as roads and mines are developed in the region.

The two main migratory caribou herds in Nunavik have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years. The George River herd has plummeted from 800,000 animals in 1993 to just 9,000 in 2016, while the Leaf River herd has dropped from 600,000 caribou in 2001 to less than 200,000 today.

The new study, called Mining Development, Migratory Caribou and Land Use in Northern Quebec, attributes some of that decline to human disturbance—mining operations, roads and villages situated as far as 21 kilometres away from the animals’ range.

Those herds are sacrificing parts of their habitat to avoid those disturbances, from about two per cent of their summering grounds to a cumulative loss as high as 20 per cent of their wintering grounds, the study says.

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