Eastern Migratory

Cape ChurchillGeorge RiverLeaf RiverSouthern Hudson Bay

The 2017 report of the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada estimated the total population of eastern migratory caribou 170,636 mature animals (not the total population) and says there has been an 80% overall decline in number over three generations (18-21 years). Most of the remaining Eastern Migratory caribou are in the Leaf River herd.

Eastern migratory caribou range from around Hudson bay, across the Ungava peninsula in Nunavik (northern Quebec) and into Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador). They move from wintering grounds in the spring to calve, generally closer to the coast, then move back again in the fall. Although they migrate, they are not barren-ground caribou, but woodland caribou. 

The eastern migratory caribou designation covers four subpopulations (or herds).

  • The Cape Churchill herd occupies part of the Manitoba coastline on Hudson Bay.
  • The Southern Hudson Bay herd overlaps slightly with the Cape Churchill herd, but is mostly found further south along the coastal Manitoba - Ontario border.
  • The Leaf River herd is on the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec, and sometimes overlaps with the range of the George River herd that occupies parts of Quebec and Labrador.
  • The George River herd occupies parts of Quebec and Labrador.

 

Related news

Genetic legacy of last glaciation influences reindeer's seasonal migrations

This news release is about a new study that cross referenced GPS tracked movements and genetics of caribou, and found genes thought to be associated with migratory behaviour. The genetic differences are thought to spring from a genetic division during the last ice age, when populations were physically separated by ice sheets. The study authors say this has implications for possible loss of migratory behaviours if genes are lost through shrinking populations.
11 February 2022 | Science Daily

Cree and Innu sign agreement over caribou harvest in Cree territory

A news story about the agreement between Cree and Innu First Nations allowing Innu communities to hunt caribou on Cree territory. The Innu communities can take 2300 caribou this year under the terms of the agreement. the caribou come from the Leaf River herd. The George River herd on which the Innu communities had previously relied is at only one percent of it's peak recoreded population in 1990, and hunting the herd is banned. "For us, this community hunt will not only meet a need for our Elders' food security, but also perpetuate a sharing relationship that dates back to time immemorial," said Chief Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Innu community of Uashat Mak Mani-utenam and spokesperson for the nine Innu communities.
31 January 2022 | CBC North

Caribou are vanishing at an alarming rate. Is it too late to save them?

A magazine-length article giving an overview of some of the challenges facing caribou in Canada, and the impacts of caribou decline. It includes both barren-ground and woodland caribou.
7 September 2021 | Canadian Geographic

Nunavik pushes for its right to manage and harvest region’s caribou

The organization that represents Inuit in Nunavik (Northern Quebec) is working on an Inuit-led management plan for caribou in the region. They are concerned that the province does not recognize the priority of Inuit in hunting the caribou, and that federal government conservation planning does not distingush between the three herds in Nunavik. The herds in question (George River, Leaf River and Torngat Mountain) are all classified as Eastern Migratory Caribou.
21 July 2020 | Nunatsiaq News

An Oral History of Whale Cove

Six Inuit tell the story of their families' forced relocations to an unfamiliar land—and how they came to call the place home
10 October 2019 | The Walrus

Related resources

Collaborative Research and Monitoring of Migratory Eastern Cape Churchill Caribou: Linking Wapusk National Park and an Indigenous Conservation Protected Area

A recorded presentation by several people (41:40 to end of presentation, 57:43 to end of questions) about the Cape Churchill herd and plans for its further conservation. The presentation description says, "The summer range of the Cape Churchill herd is almost completely protected by Wapusk National Park, however the winter range is largely unprotected, existing outside of the park boundaries. The development of a proposed Indigenous Protected Conservation Area (IPCA), led by the Manitoba Métis Federation is a priority goal of our group, with caribou being its focal species." The part of the presentation focused on caribou conservation starts at about 07:00.
(2022)

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Format: web

Eastern MigratoryCape ChurchillRange management

Caribou (Eastern Migratory population)

A brief Ontario government web page on eastern migratory caribou. The range of one of the herds (the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation) extends into Ontario.
Government of Ontario (2018)

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Eastern Migratory

North America's Largest Herd of Caribou on the Move (360 Video)

A short 360 degree video showing migratory caribou in Nunavik moving toward calving grounds. It has commentary by David Suzuki giving some facts about the caribou.
CBC (2017)


Format: video

Eastern Migratory

Mushuau Innu learn to hunt caribou in Labrador

A 26 minute video produced by CBC program "Land and Sea" about Mushuau Innu living in Labrador, with a focus on their relationship with caribou. The video is entirely narrated, and dated in style and terminology, but shows some traditional hunting practices.
CBC (1979)

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Format: video

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