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A female caribou killed by a poacher

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The Ministry of Wildlife reports the death of a female caribou by poaching. (Archive photo)

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The Ministry of Wildlife reports the death of a mountain caribou from Gaspésie in its report on Operation Panache carried out this fall against poaching in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie.

This is a female caribou who was wearing a telemetry collar. The beast is one of the females captured and put in an enclosure in the winter of 2023 and then released in August.

On October 15, wildlife protection officers reportedly went to the location where the animal was shot, accompanied by a dog handler and a drone pilot. The investigation and analysis of evidence is still ongoing.

The ministry indicates that suspects were encountered on October 18. The meat was seized and was kept for expert purposes as part of the investigation.

The species designated threatened in Quebec since 2009 and endangered since 2003 in Canada.

When contacted, Nature Québec deplores that the slaughtered animal is a female, which, according to the organization, further weakens a population in danger of extinction. There are perhaps only around thirty individuals left, it’s truly catastrophic, comments the director of the organization and biologist, Alice-Anne Simard.

Individuals who kill mountain caribou, an endangered species, are liable to a fine of $20,000, double that if they This is a recurrence.

Alain Branchaud of the Society for Nature and Parks judges that this is not much. He compares these fines with those imposed by the Endangered Species Act which can go up to $250,000 for a single offense while the overall fines amount to 240 counts of the charge. ;Operation Panache could generate fines of $275,000. This is not a deterrent, notes Mr. Branchaud.

Even if we had more severe sanctions, Alice-Anne Simard believes, however, that is not necessarily what will solve the problem. The problem is that we have brought a population of caribou really below the threshold of extinction

This is not just any act of poaching.

A quote from Alice-Anne Simard. general director of Nature Québec

The organization once again calls on the government to put in place more vigorous and structuring protection measures. So that we ensure that, in the future, if ever there is another individual like that, who is a victim of poaching, which can always happen, but it does not completely endanger the whole of the population.

Without presuming the motivations behind poaching, Ms. Simard recalls that the government's slowness in submitting its protection plan fuels uncertainty among forest communities. What we are saying is that having a clear strategy with compensation measures for the forestry industry so that we know where we are going, everyone, maybe things will go a little better. reduce social tensions.

The Gaspésie mountain caribou protection plan has been awaited since 2021. The Gaspésie caribou population, estimated at 38 individuals in the fall of 2020, would only number around thirty animals.

The death of a caribou by poaching remains an extremely rare event. A carcass was found in 2018 in the La Cache sector, near kilometer 101, on Chemin Lacroix.

According to the ministry, Operation Panache mobilized around a hundred wildlife agents and police officers from the Sûreté du Québec.

Among the animals killed, wildlife officials reported 43 moose, a lynx and several partridges. The department anticipates the filing of more than 500 charges and the imposition of $275,000 in fines.

The department does not' had not responded to our interview request at the time of publishing this news.

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