Six of the approximately 34 Gaspésie caribou have been placed in captivity in recent weeks to protect them from predators during the calving period, Quebec announced on Monday.

The capture and enclosure operation for these female caribou took place from March 18 to April 6, specifies the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP ), in a press release.

After giving birth, the animals will be kept in captivity for a period of five to six months in order to protect their fawns from predation during the first critical months of their life. All caribou will then be released at the end of the summer.

Two male caribou were also captured and fitted with radio collars during the operation before being released.

The MELCCFP recalls that the estimated size of the Gaspésie caribou population is 34 individuals. The number of females potentially available for capture was therefore less than 15.

“Although they are still in the process of acclimatization, the captured females are doing well. Specialized personnel are on site at all times to ensure that the caribou continue to adapt well to this new protective environment.

The Gaspésie mountain caribou population remains on the verge of extinction, shows the 2021 annual inventory published last January.

Only 33 caribou were counted when flying over a 246 km⁠2 area covering Mounts Albert, McGerrigle and Logan, where caribou are concentrated during the rutting period, compared to 29 caribou the previous year.

However, the Gaspésie caribou herd numbered some 200 individuals in 2008, recalled biologist Martin-Hugues St-Laurent at the time.