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Setting the moose quota is a juggling act

By Darrin McGrath   |   Cabin Country

The moose hunting season will soon be closed. This will be the first time in many years that there will be no moose hunting after Christmas into January. Basically, by shortening the open season the Provincial Government has removed winter moose hunting, although this year we have had winter conditions through most of December.

Holding a winter moose hunt can be a big game management option to reduce moose numbers. Moose are easier to track in the snow, and they are easier to see against the white back drop.
In addition, hunters on snow machines may be able to access spots that they can’t get to without snow down. In this way, moose in hard to reach places of big management areas may be harvested.

Of course, allowing the moose season to run until almost the end of January provides hunters with extra time to hunt and this may also contribute to greater hunter success rates.

Another aspect of having an elongated moose hunt deep into January is that it will lead to the harvest of some pregnant cows. Cow moose can carry from one to three calves, so having such a harvest can help knock back moose numbers.

I recall seeing an interview some years ago when a winter moose hunt was first opened on the Great Northern Peninsula. The rationale behind the hunt was that the moose numbers were growing to such an extent that they could over-browse the range and do long term damage to the food supply. This situation could have had potentially long-term consequences for the vegetation and the moose. Thus Government allowed a winter harvest so hunters could get back into otherwise hard to access areas of the Northern Peninsula.

Another thing about hunting moose in the snow is that if you knock one down, there is no worry of flies or meat spoilage. And with the marshes covered in snow you don’t get as much old black bog and twigs and leaves stuck on the meat.

The reason the Province shortened the moose season this year was at least partly due to calls from the hunting public about declining moose numbers.

The Government has quite a juggling act to perform when it comes to reconciling the demands of hunters versus the complaints of some motorists about moose-vehicle collisions.

Hunting moose is a widely pursued and much loved activity, but there have been people killed and maimed in moose-vehicle accidents. Into this potent mix of strong opinions goes the fact that moose hunting by non-residents is also an important part of the Province’s tourism sector. On one side resident hunters and outfitters argue the moose are in decline, while groups such as SOPAC claim there are too many moose which pose a threat on roadways.

I wouldn’t want to be on the management team trying to keep all sides happy in this debate.

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