Development of colony-specific genetic markers for murres hunted off Newfoundland and Labrador
Thick-billed murres from breeding colonies throughout the North Atlantic, and common murres from colonies throughout the northwest Atlantic winter off Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland where they are the object of an annual hunt. The winter murre or turr hunt is an important part of the culture of coastal communities, and is protected under Canadian legislation. The colony of origin of hunted murres is unknown, although it is necessary to assess the impact of the hunt on specific colonies. The hunt could target colonies that are suffering great declines. With our project we propose to use genetic markers to assign hunted birds to their colony of origin and assess the impact of the murre hunt on common and thick-billed murres from different colonies.
Our results will be important for the management of the murre hunt, and used by Bird Studies Canada and Wildlife Habitat Canada to inform the government to improve hunting regulations in order to minimize the impact of the hunt on declining colonies.