Former politician and labour leader Richard Cashin is calling for a cull of moose in Newfoundland.
But Environment Minister Ross Wiseman says the government is already doing “something that’s akin to a cull without calling it a cull.”
Wiseman said the government has increased the number of moose licences by 5,000 this year, at a time when the province’s moose population is in steady decline.
Cashin held a news conference Thursday afternoon accusing the government of refusing to cull moose because it would be distasteful to the public.
“It’s now, I guess, the official position of the provincial government, that a cull is socially unacceptable,” he said.
“I think that to give us what it should be would be a drastic cut of at least 50,000 animals.”
Cashin compared the stance to Greenpeace and other animal rights groups condemning the annual seal hunt.
The news conference, organized by the Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC), came one day after the provincial government announced money for pilot projects with moose fences and animal detection systems on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Cashin said the announcement was just a distraction; the bottom line is there are too many animals on the island which are affecting the ecosystem and making driving dangerous.
But Wiseman said there has been a steady decrease in the number of moose since around 1997.
Despite the declining numbers, he said the government has been increasing moose licences, especially in areas along the Trans-Canada Highway.
This year, he said, the government issued more than 33,000 licences.
As far as the idea of refusing to cull moose because it’s “socially unacceptable,” Wiseman said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For starters, he said, hunting is a socially acceptable, proud part of Newfoundland and Labrador culture.
Moreover, he said, the government is increasing the number moose licences.
“If that was a guiding principle that we use, then clearly we wouldn't have increased the number of moose licences this year to 33,000,” he said.
Wiseman also said it’s important for people to know that there are around 100,000 moose in the province.
According to literature provided at the SOPAC news conference, “According to current estimates approximately 125,000-150,000 moose live in Newfoundland today.”
Wiseman said that’s simply not the case. He said that to his knowledge, the Department of Environment and Conservation is the only entity in the province which is actively tracking the number of moose.