The Mys­tery of our Dis­ap­pear­ing Moose

In many parts of Canada, num­bers of th­ese un­gainly and beloved an­i­mals are drop­ping fast — while in a few re­gions there is an un­healthy over­abun­dance. Ex­perts can­not even agree what’s hap­pen­ing, let alone what to do about it. Brian Banks in­ves­ti­gates

Canadian Wildlife - - CONTENTS - By Brian Banks

In many parts of Canada, num­bers of th­ese bizarre and beloved an­i­mals are drop­ping fast — while in a few re­gions there is an un­healthy over­abun­dance. What is go­ing on? And what is to be done about it? Ex­perts can­not agree

“GHOST MOOSE” IS A TERM THAT CONJURES UP IMAGES OF ZOMBIES and TV shows like “The Walk­ing Dead.” But in the scary scene that’s play­ing out in the woods in much of Canada and the north­ern United States, it is nei­ther fic­tion nor fan­tasy.

In­stead, pic­ture a real life-and-death drama in which a tiny par­a­site, called the win­ter tick, latches onto the skin of un­sus­pect­ing moose in late fall. Then, pe­ri­od­i­cally over the win­ter, th­ese ticks — some­times num­ber­ing in the tens of thou­sands on a sin­gle an­i­mal — ex­tract their “blood meals.”

The tor­mented hosts rub their bod­ies against trees and branches for re­lief and, in the process, wear off their fa­mil­iar outer dark-brown coats to re­veal light-coloured guard hair be­neath. Come spring, they emerge from the woods as pal­lid “ghost moose” — if they, or their young calves, sur­vive at all.

This dis­turb­ing sce­nario has be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon in the past 10 to 20 years. Worse still, it is only one el­e­ment in a big­ger trend that has seen moose pop­u­la­tions tum­ble over sig­nif­i­cant parts of the iconic an­i­mal’s North Amer­i­can range — de­clin­ing by 20, 40, even 50 per cent or more. “In some ju­ris­dic­tions, it’s been a col­lapse,” says Dave Pearce, man­ager of forest con­ser­va­tion at CPAWS Wild­lands League in Toronto.

Be­sides ticks, the list of known and sus­pected fac­tors in­cludes other pests and par­a­sites, over-hunt­ing, ex­ces­sive pre­da­tion, cli­mate change, habi­tat de­struc­tion, poach­ing, road­kill and more. But here’s the thing: while the potential causes are known, ex­perts are still hard-pressed to say which are to blame for spe­cific de­clines in spe­cific ar­eas. And to con­found mat­ters, a cou­ple of re­gions in Canada have a grow­ing num­ber of moose. “We’re not re­ally sure what all is con­tribut­ing,” says Dan Bul­loch, man­ager of wildlife pro­gram ser­vices in Man­i­toba’s de­part­ment of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. “We also don’t know how dif­fer­ent it is ge­o­graph­i­cally.”

Thomas Mil­lette, a ge­og­ra­pher and wildlife aerial imag­ing spe­cial­ist at Mount Holyoke Col­lege in Mas­sachusetts who is cur­rently study­ing moose with the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment, de­scribes the sit­u­a­tion as “a fir­ing squad of threats. When you add them all up, it’s a big driver of re­duc­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

Alarm bells are ring­ing. From coast to coast in Canada, wildlife plan­ners, bi­ol­o­gists, con­ser­va­tion groups, In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and non-in­dige­nous hun­ters and out­fit­ters are en­gaged in var­i­ous steps to bet­ter un­der­stand and ad­dress the is­sue. In Man­i­toba, for ex­am­ple, start­ing in 2011, the prov­ince im­posed “con­ser­va­tion clo­sures,”

ban­ning hunt­ing in af­flicted ar­eas. On­tario set up its Moose Project in 2014, aimed at cre­at­ing man­age­ment ac­tions to help al­le­vi­ate pres­sure on the moose. Last year, Bri­tish Columbia ac­cepted 21 recommendations in a moose re­cov­ery strat­egy re­port and in­vested $1.2 mil­lion in new moose man­age­ment mea­sures. And right now in main­land Nova Sco­tia, where hunt­ing has been banned for decades and the na­tive, east­ern moose has been listed as an en­dan­gered species since 2003, the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources is gath­er­ing pop­u­la­tion data to up­date a decade-old pro­vin­cial moose re­cov­ery strat­egy.

It should be said, not ev­ery­one thinks the over­all sit­u­a­tion is a cri­sis. Gerry Red­mond, a re­tired New Brunswick gov­ern­ment bi­ol­o­gist in Fred­er­ic­ton, notes that “pop­u­la­tions of an­i­mals are dy­namic. Some ups and downs are nat­u­ral.”

In­deed, moose pop­u­la­tions are sta­ble in some lo­ca­tions; and in a few ar­eas, such as New Brunswick and south­ern Saskatchewan, they ap­pear to be grow­ing. Then there is the sit­u­a­tion in New­found­land and Cape Bre­ton Is­land, where moose are so plen­ti­ful that the prob­lem isn’t de­cline but over­pop­u­la­tion — a sit­u­a­tion bi­ol­o­gists and wildlife plan­ners call “hy­per­abun­dance.”

What’s dif­fer­ent about th­ese cases, how­ever, is that the con­di­tions are spe­cific to the place, and the un­der­ly­ing driv­ers are sim­pler and bet­ter un­der­stood, com­pared with the vex­ing cir­cum­stances where moose are in de­cline. IN TRY­ING TO AP­PRE­CI­ATE THE COM­PLEX­ITY of the moose story in Canada, a few ba­sics are in or­der. Moose (Al­ces al­ces), the largest mem­ber of the deer fam­ily, are found in ev­ery prov­ince and ter­ri­tory, ex­cept Prince Ed­ward Is­land. They live in both the bo­real and tem­po­ral mixed forests, but thrive in cold win­ters and risk heat stress any­time sum­mer tem­per­a­tures go much above 15 C. The name “moose” comes from an Al­go­nquin word that means “twig eater” — and, in fact, the an­i­mal’s diet con­sists of twigs, buds, bark and leaves, as well as wa­ter lilies and other aquatic plants. Re­cent es­ti­mates put the to­tal pop­u­la­tion in Canada at more than 600,000. There are two main sub­species, the north­west­ern moose and the east­ern moose, with tra­di­tional ranges di­vid­ing the coun­try around Lake Su­pe­rior; a third moun­tain sub­species can also be found in south­ern Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta, and the ter­ri­to­ries share a fourth sub­species with Alaska.

The moose on Cape Bre­ton Is­land are the one ex­cep­tion — they are the north­west­ern sub­species, de­scen­dants from 18 moose that were im­ported to the prov­ince by Parks Canada in the 1940s, af­ter the orig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion was wiped out by hunt­ing in the 1800s. The moose in New­found­land also de­scended from a hand­ful of im­ports — four east­ern moose brought from New Brunswick in 1904, whose off­spring now to­tal an es­ti­mated 115,000 an­i­mals.

In both th­ese lo­ca­tions, the an­i­mal’s “im­port sta­tus” largely ex­plains its cur­rent hy­per­abun­dance. New­found­land,

which had no na­tive moose, also has no wolves or other non-hu­man preda­tors and of­fers an abun­dance of good habi­tat. Con­di­tions are sim­i­lar in Cape Bre­ton: the larger western im­ports have, for the most part, been pro­tected from hun­ters within Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park.

His­tor­i­cally, the same over-ex­ploita­tion by Euro­pean set­tlers that orig­i­nally ex­tir­pated moose from Cape Bre­ton Is­land also took a heavy toll on the an­i­mals in much of east­ern Canada. In fact, the story of the east­ern moose for much of the last cen­tury was one of re­cov­ery.

That re­bound was short­est-lived in main­land Nova Sco­tia, how­ever, be­cause of the prov­ince’s rel­a­tively small size and pres­sures from re­source devel­op­ment and ur­ban ex­pan­sion. By the time the prov­ince listed the moose as an en­dan­gered species in 2003, the pop­u­la­tion numbered be­tween 1,000 and 1,200 an­i­mals. “We’re tak­ing over their habi­tat, we’re chang­ing their habi­tat, we’re frag­ment­ing their habi­tat, and it just doesn’t work for them,” says Karen Bea­z­ley, a pro­fes­sor at Dal­housie Univer­sity’s School for Re­source and En­vi­ron­men­tal Stud­ies in Hal­i­fax and co-au­thor of a re­port on moose in Nova Sco­tia that was the ba­sis of the prov­ince’s first moose re­cov­ery strat­egy in 2007.

Un­for­tu­nately, a decade later, there are signs nei­ther that strat­egy nor the moose’s en­dan­gered species sta­tus is turn­ing the tide. Ac­cord­ing to Randy Mil­ton, a wildlife man­ager with the Nova Sco­tia De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, pre­lim­i­nary re­sults from an aerial pop­u­la­tion

FOR MANY IN THE NORTH — WHERE FOOD COSTS CAN BE DOU­BLE WHAT THEY ARE IN SOUTH­ERN CANADA — THE HEALTH OF THE MOOSE POP­U­LA­TION IS UL­TI­MATELY A FOOD SE­CU­RITY IS­SUE

sam­pling sur­vey con­ducted this past win­ter by spe­cial­ist Mil­lette point to fur­ther de­clines. More sur­vey­ing is needed next win­ter before Mil­ton can make any firm es­ti­mates, but he ad­mits he’s wor­ried that the al­ready low moose num­bers are “dra­mat­i­cally re­duced.”

Next door, in Que­bec, the ar­eas of big­gest con­cern are in the south and west. There, over the past decade, the win­ter tick (Der­ma­cen­tor al­bipic­tus) has be­come nearly ubiq­ui­tous. One study in 2014 found 93 per cent of all moose stud­ied south of the St. Lawrence River had tick in­fes­ta­tions. The south is also where moose num­bers have fallen the most in re­cent years, al­though the prov­ince’s over­all pop­u­la­tion to­tal (es­ti­mated at 110,000 in 2010) is still con­sid­ered ro­bust.

Fur­ther west, in On­tario, the moose pop­u­la­tion didn’t hit its lat­est peak un­til around 2004, ac­cord­ing to Pa­trick Hu­bert, wildlife bi­ol­o­gist and policy ad­viser at the On­tario Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry. Since then, the es­ti­mated num­ber of an­i­mals has fallen be­tween 20 and 25 per cent, to a to­tal of about 92,000 moose. “We have some con­cerns,” says Hu­bert. “There are things we need to do to ensure that we main­tain a healthy pop­u­la­tion.”

One area of par­tic­u­lar worry is the places in On­tario where moose num­bers are in de­cline. The drop is great­est in the north and west — “tra­di­tional moose ranges,” says Hu­bert — while they’re hold­ing steady in cen­tral and south­ern On­tario.

“IF THE PUBLIC WANTS TO HAVE MOOSE ON THE LAND­SCAPE IN GREATER NUM­BERS,” SAYS ONE EX­PERT, “THEN THAT HAS TO BE BUILT AT THE FOUN­DA­TIONAL LEVEL OF LAND MAN­AGE­MENT OB­JEC­TIVES”

MOOSE POP­U­LA­TIONS ACROSS CANADA

Moose are hard to count, even to es­ti­mate, and dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tions use dif­fer­ent meth­ods for calculation on dif­fer­ent sched­ules. Here is a “best-guess” prov­ince-by-prov­ince tally

To date, On­tario’s Moose Project has led to only mod­est changes in the tim­ing and du­ra­tion of the hunt­ing sea­son, both for adult moose and calves. A re­lated pro­posal to ex­pand wolf trap­ping and hunt­ing to cut down on their im­pact on moose was shelved af­ter a ma­jor public protest.

Rather than ad­vo­cat­ing for preda­tor con­trol, Dave Pearce of the Wild­lands League says On­tario should elim­i­nate calf hunt­ing. “We’re not anti-hunt­ing, we’re not pro-hunt­ing. But in a sit­u­a­tion like this, with the pop­u­la­tion in de­cline and very, very loose re­stric­tions on the calf har­vest, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” says Pearce. Ac­cord­ing to Mark Ry­ck­man, chief bi­ol­o­gist of the On­tario Federation of Hun­ters and An­glers, in an in­ter­view with CBC Radio, “the vast ma­jor­ity of hun­ters have no de­sire to har­vest a calf.” The federation’s stance is that before declar­ing an all-out ban on hunt­ing calves, the prov­ince should al­low more time to de­ter­mine if the 50 per cent re­duc­tion in the calf har­vest in­sti­tuted in 2015 has had any ef­fect.

Both Pearce and Hu­bert also say there are signs that many of the other emerg­ing threats to the moose are tak­ing their toll. While the win­ter tick is more wide­spread in places to the south, like Min­nesota, Michi­gan and parts of New Eng­land, there is ev­i­dence that it is emerg­ing fur­ther north. In all cases, it’s thought cli­mate change might be to blame. Cold win­ters and late snow cover have tra­di­tion­ally con­trolled the tick num­bers; as those con­di­tions di­min­ish, ticks can stick around. An­other dis­ease, called brain­worm (Pare­laphostrongy­lus tenuis) — a par­a­site car­ried by white­tailed deer that is far dead­lier to moose than deer, at­tack­ing their cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem — is a prob­lem wher­ever the two an­i­mals over­lap. And with the deer pop­u­la­tion in On­tario grow­ing and mov­ing far­ther north, brain­worm is fol­low­ing. Com­pound­ing the threat are other hu­man-made fac­tors, par­tic­u­larly ex­panded log­ging-road ac­cess. “We know that roads pro­vide ac­cess not only for hun­ters, but they also im­prove the for­ag­ing abil­ity of some preda­tors,” says Hu­bert. But any talk of clos­ing or lim­it­ing ac­cess to th­ese roads “is con­tro­ver­sial when it comes up.”

In Man­i­toba, while the fo­cus shifts en­tirely to the north­west­ern moose, the chal­lenges are lit­tle changed. The prov­ince has a smaller moose pop­u­la­tion than On­tario — fewer than 30,000, ac­cord­ing to wildlife man­ager Dan Bul­loch — but it has a huge va­ri­ety of chal­lenges and re­sponses. “We’ve got de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tions from The Pas south,” says Bul­loch. “We started to no­tice it in the last decade.” As noted above, the prov­ince be­gan clos­ing wildlife man­age­ment ar­eas to hunt­ing in 2011 — in two of its tra­di­tion­ally most pro­duc­tive moose ar­eas, the Duck and Por­cu­pine moun­tains — and has added sev­eral more since. One small clo­sure, at Tur­tle Moun­tain, on the North Dakota bor­der, is in an area that went from hav­ing no moose before the 1970s, then a big in­flux, fol­lowed by a steep de­cline.

In tan­dem with the clo­sures, the prov­ince also al­lowed for limited ex­pan­sion of wolf hunt­ing and deer culls. “We did that as a short-term ven­ture when we did the first few clo­sures,” says Bul­loch. “The idea there is to give the moose a chance to kick-start re­cov­ery. It’s not some­thing we want to do over a long pe­riod of time.”

From a man­age­ment stand­point, Man­i­toba has suc­cess­fully broached the is­sue of in­clud­ing its res­i­dent First Na­tions and Metis pop­u­la­tions in its hunt­ing bans — even though those groups’ treaty rights to hunt moose are un­der pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tion in only a limited way. “We talked to our con­sti­tu­tional peo­ple and ba­si­cally the mes­sage was we can take ac­tions if we can jus­tify it but we have to go through a con­sul­ta­tion process, which we did, and it seems to have worked out well,” says Bul­loch. Part of the chal­lenge here is the dif­fer­ence in hunt­ing cul­tures be­tween north and south. For many in the North, where food costs can be dou­ble what they are in south­ern Canada, the health of the moose pop­u­la­tion is ul­ti­mately a food se­cu­rity is­sue.

Man­ag­ing this dy­namic will be an im­por­tant hur­dle in ev­ery prov­ince if stricter ac­tion is needed to ar­rest the moose’s pop­u­la­tion de­cline. Right now, in much of the coun­try, there is tension be­tween In­dige­nous and non-in­dige­nous groups and be­tween south­ern and north­ern hun­ters when it comes to who is more re­spon­si­ble for the moose’s de­cline.

Bul­loch says that before any ar­eas cur­rently closed to hunt­ing might be re­opened, there must be “dis­cus­sions with all the user groups — First Na­tions, Metis and the li­cenced hunt­ing com­mu­nity.”

He also notes that while over-hunt­ing has been a fac­tor in un­der­cut­ting moose num­bers, it’s not the only one. “If you look at the south­east part of the prov­ince, we’re north of Min­nesota and ad­ja­cent to On­tario, and those parts of that prov­ince and state have both seen fairly dras­tic de­clines as well. Yet in Min­nesota there hadn’t been any hunt­ing for sev­eral years.”

Vince Crich­ton, Cana­dian vice-pres­i­dent of the North Amer­i­can Moose Foun­da­tion, is an ac­knowl­edged ex­pert on the bi­ol­ogy and man­age­ment of moose; he is known by the moniker “Dr. Moose.” He re­cently re­tired af­ter 40 years work­ing in what is now Man­i­toba’s Wildlife and Ecosys­tem Pro­tec­tion Branch. His experience with moose is deep. He was born and raised in cen­tral-north On­tario, where his fa­ther worked in wildlife man­age­ment, and he re­mem­bers go­ing to the Chap­leau Crown game pre­serve (at 7,000 square kilo­me­tres, the largest in the world). “We used to be able to see 10 or 12 moose in a morn­ing. Now it’s a waste of my time.” In ar­eas of de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion, he is a keen ad­vo­cate for tight re­stric­tions on ev­ery­thing from log­ging roads to hunt­ing (by all par­ties). “When pop­u­la­tions go down like this, to low num­bers, the im­pact of dis­ease, pre­da­tion, in­ci­den­tal mor­tal­ity be­comes more of an is­sue.”

Just as the sit­u­a­tion in the south­east re­sem­bles nearby lo­cales, south­west­ern Man­i­toba has much in com­mon with neigh­bour­ing Saskatchewan — where the moose pop­u­la­tion is ris­ing. In try­ing to ex­plain this trend, sci­en­tists and plan­ners cite the lack of tra­di­tional preda­tors, par­tic­u­larly wolves and bears. Some also point the fin­ger at con­sol­i­da­tion of farm own­er­ship and re­sult­ing ru­ral de­pop­u­la­tion. In short, there just aren’t as many peo­ple liv­ing in th­ese ar­eas, and that means there are fewer un­reg­u­lated hun­ters shoot­ing moose in the “back 40.” That may change, how­ever, at least in Saskatchewan, where the gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced a for­mal hunt­ing sea­son in dis­tricts where moose are most plen­ti­ful.

FIF­TEEN OR 20 YEARS AGO, when it be­came clear how much dam­age the moun­tain pine bee­tle in­fes­ta­tion was do­ing to Bri­tish Columbia’s forests, most peo­ple thought of the trees. The toll on the moose turned out to be al­most as bad.

As with most prov­inces, moose pop­u­la­tion trends in the West vary by re­gion; and for ev­ery place in de­cline, a dif­fer­ent mix of the fac­tors al­ready out­lined ap­plies. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Al Gor­ley, a forestry con­sul­tant who au­thored the 2016 moose re­cov­ery strat­egy for the B.C. gov­ern­ment, “one of the ar­eas where the most se­ri­ous de­clines have hap­pened is in the same area where we had the huge moun­tain pine bee­tle out­break and a huge log­ging ef­fort to sal­vage the dead tim­ber.”

IN B.C., LOG­GING AND OTHER IN­DUS­TRIAL EX­PAN­SION BRINGS WITH IT ROADS, WHICH IN TURN BRING VE­HI­CLES, DIS­EASE, PREDA­TORS AND MANY OTHER THREATS

The pine bee­tle sal­vage re­sult? A blue­print for how not to man­age wildlife pop­u­la­tions. The in­tense log­ging, Gor­ley ex­plains, brought all kinds of roads. All that road ac­cess brought hun­ters and preda­tors. And that chain of events led to a col­lapse in moose num­bers. Else­where in the prov­ince, in­tense ex­pan­sion of oil and gas in­fra­struc­ture and elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion lines has had a sim­i­lar im­pact. But rather than close roads or cur­tail ex­pan­sion, the prov­ince’s ini­tial rem­edy was to start culling wolves. Only last year did it also an­nounce mea­sures to re­duce hunt­ing and be­gin habi­tat restora­tion.

Gor­ley’s re­port, which the for­mer B.C. gov­ern­ment ac­cepted in full, takes a much dif­fer­ent tack. Pub­lished a year af­ter the prov­ince also adopted a new frame­work for moose man­age­ment, it calls for mea­sures based on an ex­plicit in­tent to make moose restora­tion a public policy goal. “There are all kinds of tac­ti­cal things peo­ple would like to do [to help moose], but in my opin­ion if the public wants to have moose on the land­scape in greater num­bers... then that has to be built at the foun­da­tional level of your land man­age­ment ob­jec­tives,” he says.

With forestry, for ex­am­ple, this would mean re­quir­ing log­ging com­pa­nies’ forest stew­ard­ship plans — which must be ap­proved before they can har­vest — to ad­dress a goal of in­creas­ing moose pop­u­la­tions by pro­tect­ing or cre­at­ing a cer­tain amount of habi­tat. “Then they could

re­quire the com­pany to de­scribe in their plans how they were go­ing to ac­com­mo­date that or proac­tively in­cor­po­rate it into their op­er­a­tions.”

As in Man­i­toba, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween First Na­tions and non-in­dige­nous hun­ters is also an im­por­tant piece of the moose man­age­ment puzzle in Bri­tish Columbia. There are more than 100 First Na­tions in the prov­ince, many with moose on their ter­ri­tory. Some have “very struc­tured ap­proaches to moose man­age­ment,” says Gor­ley, while others have very lit­tle. For its part, the prov­ince has “vir­tu­ally no tools to man­age Abo­rig­i­nal hunt­ing.” In essence, there are “two ju­ris­dic­tions man­ag­ing one moose.”

Go­ing for­ward, he puts stock in the emerg­ing area of “col­lab­o­ra­tion and co-man­age­ment” agree­ments be­tween the gov­ern­ment and in­di­vid­ual First Na­tions. Re­cently, a num­ber have been struck, in both treaty and non-treaty ar­eas, to man­age dif­fer­ent re­sources. Gor­ley cites an ex­am­ple in his re­port that deals with elk on Van­cou­ver Is­land. “There, the prov­ince and the First Na­tion are co­or­di­nat­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties,” he ex­plains. “The First Na­tion ac­tu­ally sets a quota and is­sues tags and en­forces lim­i­ta­tions on their mem­bers in an at­tempt to par­al­lel the gov­ern­ment ac­tiv­i­ties. So there are signs of light there.”

Sim­i­lar, height­ened col­lab­o­ra­tion might be con­sid­ered across the coun­try. While there is a great deal of for­mal and in­for­mal in­for­ma­tion shar­ing among the plan­ners and man­agers in dif­fer­ent prov­inces, their ac­tions are limited to their own ju­ris­dic­tions. Yet both the moose and the threats they face — the threats we cause — know no such bound­aries. “We’re go­ing fur­ther north and fur­ther in­land,” says Dal­housie’s Bea­z­ley. “As the cli­mate changes, too, then th­ese im­pacts move fur­ther north­ward as well.”

This per­spec­tive, stress­ing the hu­man fac­tors un­der­cut­ting moose pop­u­la­tion, dom­i­nated the pro­ceed­ings in Septem­ber one year ago when wildlife man­agers and re­searchers from across Canada (as well as the U.S. and Europe) met in Bran­don, Man­i­toba, for the 50th North Amer­i­can Moose Con­fer­ence. And it was likely to be preva­lent at this year’s con­fer­ence, too, al­though the 2017 venue — Cape Bre­ton High­lands Na­tional Park — en­sured plenty of fo­cus on lo­cal hy­per­abun­dance, too.

Crich­ton, the 2016 con­fer­ence co-chair, says that, un­til re­cently, too many gov­ern­ments have been re­luc­tant to tackle the full spec­trum of thorny po­lit­i­cal is­sues moose man­age­ment de­mands. As that changes, Gor­ley won­ders if “co­or­di­nated pi­lot projects” among gov­ern­ments could fa­cil­i­tate greater in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and help to im­prove the col­lec­tive re­sponse.

“Be­cause the cir­cum­stances [in dif­fer­ent prov­inces] are pretty dif­fer­ent and the re­la­tion­ships with First Na­tions vary across the piece, I would be hes­i­tant to try to lay a blan­ket so­lu­tion,” says Gor­ley. But the “big pic­ture” needs to be on ev­ery­one’s mind. “I en­cour­age ev­ery­body to look at [the moose prob­lem] as a land and re­source man­age­ment is­sue and not pick any par­tic­u­lar piece in iso­la­tion.”

TWIG EATERS

Far left: Ef­fects of the win­ter tick are ev­i­dent on this fe­male moose in spring; luck­ily, her calf has sur­vived. Mid­dle: Bull moose in the snow. Right: Moose tracks in Peter Lougheed Pro­vin­cial Park, Al­berta. Open­ing: A moose in the Yukon

COW AND CALVES

The story of the east­ern moose for much of the last cen­tury was re­cov­ery af­ter near-ex­tir­pa­tion... but the re­bound has been short-lived

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