The Telegram (St. John's)
Moose reduction zone licences doubled for Avalon; Gros Morne’s decreased
Increase is a step in the right direction: SOPAC
This year’s fall hunt moose licences for the Avalon reduction zone, also known as Moose Management Area 100, have doubled to 600.
There has been no change to the number of licences issued for central Newfoundland’s moose-reduction zone
The zones were established in 2015, to study the effect population reductions would have on moose vehicle collisions (MVCS) along the province’s highways.
The Avalon zone is six kilometres wide by approximately 268 kilometres, and follows the highway to Clarenville. Central’s zone runs from Grand Falls-windsor to Gander, covering 98 kilometres. A total of 800 licences were issued for both areas.
Linda Bishop, chairwoman of the Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC), says that decision a step in the right direction.
Bishop was involved in a moose accident on the Avalon Peninsula herself, and reviewing the Telelink reports, she said the large animals are consistently troublesome for island travellers.
Bishop said there were a total of 99 Telelink calls concerning moose encounters over a recent two-week period,.
“Every morning I get a printout and (July 19) alone there were 11 calls. This would be sightings, dead moose and accidents,” she said. “Not to mention the other warnings that are broadcasted through (news outlets and social media).”
SOPAC has been advocating for a reduction in the province’s moose population and says it would help reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions.
“With most (MVCS) you don’t have a chance to respond because the moose is already on the highway,” she said. “We want mechanisms in place to reduce the number of moose, as our main goal is try and save lives and reduce injuries.”
Bishop says a population reduction on the Avalon zone — and continuing to push for fencing along the roadways — can achieve this.
The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources estimates the population of moose in the province to be around 114,000 animals, down from a historic peak of 150,000 in the mid1990s.
“We intentionally managed it down to that number for longterm sustainability,” said Blair Adams, director of forestry and wildlife research for the department.
“If the population stays too high for too long, they can eat themselves out of house and home, causing a big population crash, which takes a long time to recover.”
He said the decision to increase licences came after reviewing last year’s data.
“We didn’t think the 300 licences we had (in Area 100) before was enough … We felt the increase would give the effect we wanted, as part of that broader experiment would give us a clearer understanding on if reducing the density would reduce moose vehicle collisions,” he said.
Adams added the additional licences have no risk of collapsing the area’s moose population.
Gros Morne reduction
On the opposite side of the province, Gros Morne National Park has reduced the number of licences it has issued for the park by 100 for a total of 850.
The hunt was introduced as a means of forest rejuvenation, which was being hindered by heavy moose browsing.
In 2011, with 4,800 moose recorded in the park, a small hunt was introduced, with 500 licences issued, a number that grew as time went by.
A 2016 winter survey suggests the population is now about 2,000 moose.
“That’s why we started to scale back on the number of licences, because we feel we are getting close to a population sustainable for the park,” said Tom Knight, an ecosystem scientist for Parks Canada’s western Newfoundland and Labrador field unit.
Now, instead of continuing large-scale hunts within Gros Morne, the department is looking to establish a maintenance hunt.
“We anticipate the number of licences will be reduced down until we find a balance where our population is fairly stable,” he said.
The effort appears to be paying off, as three years after the hunt was introduced, Knight stated there has been recovery in hardwoods.
Another vegetation survey will take place in 2018.