Avalon moose population so low it's 'frightening': minister

James McLeod
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Environment Minister Terry French told the St. John's East Rotary Club Friday moose populations in parts of the province are in steady decline, but residents will just have to get used to coyotes as part of the province's ecosystem. - Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Environment Minister Terry French wants people to watch for moose, but says in some parts of the province you probably won't see one.

Speaking to the St. John's East Rotary Club Friday morning, French said the island's moose population is in decline, even if that's not the public perception.

"Avalon Peninsula, for example, there's been considerable decline of the moose population in the last number of years," French said, "to a point now it's a little frightening how low the moose population is."

The provincial government's policy since the 1950s has been to maintain the moose population at the highest sustainable level. French said the government is embarking on a five-year moose strategy that may revisit the current policy.

"This is a major component of our revised approach to moose management, providing long-term forecasts and hopefully greater predictability in our future efforts in utilizing and sustaining this resource," he said.

Coyote fever

Lately, though, French said he hasn't been talking about moose so much, because everyone wants to talk about coyotes.

In the six months since he took over as Environment minister, French said he's done more media interviews about coyotes than anything else.

French said that while they might be a recent addition to the ecosystem, the coyotes came here naturally, and people just have to get used to them, like any other wildlife.

"They're here to stay; there's no getting rid of them," he said. "They're here to stay and I guess, as a society, like we try to get used to moose and other wild animals. ... If you lived in Northern Labrador, you'd have to get used to polar bears."

French stressed that coyotes are a part of the ecosystem around every North American city and they're nothing to be afraid of.

"Any time that, you know, a wild animal is in the presence of humans, obviously you have to be conscious," he said.

"(But) I wouldn't recommend you go around with a knapsack of minced meat on your back."

French said people should make sure they don't leave food garbage accessible outdoors, and be careful about letting small pets roam unsupervised.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramJames




Organizations: St. John's East Rotary Club, North American

Geographic location: St. John's, Northern Labrador

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Recent comments

  • JP
    January 10, 2014 - 11:57

    your website has too much clutter. it takes forever to load a page, and this one in particular isn't even loading the article! and trust me, my computer can handle a lot! I need this article for research so could you perhaps email me a copy of the article, and please not a link back here! Thank you!

  • Harold
    March 25, 2012 - 08:57

    to Mike, Kent and common sense.. calm down guys. whats wrong with people discussing and being concerned with moose and coyotes? there is nothing wrong with a healthy discussion. 4 years ago there were 662 moose / vehicle accidents on our highways, thats the ones that were reported, many more near misses. i totally agree that drivers should pay more attention when driving, slow down at night, and refrain from using cell phones when driving. and by the way guys, no one suggested the elimination of any animal here, just healthy discussion.

  • common sense
    March 24, 2012 - 17:13

    I am amazed at some of the comments made here. It just seems like people speak without thinking. Let me sum summarize some comments: 1. Less moose means fewer accidents - really! Will people be less attentive? We have more accidents that don't involve moose. 2. Moose are not native to NL - so what. Does that justify wiping them out? That mentality is scary. 3. Too many people creating a sense of panic regarding coyote. People keep referencing one coyote attack in NS and forget we had more deadly attacks by dogs. Stop sensationalizng and playing on emotion Hopefully Terry French will rethink quotas and do what is right. We hunt many areas in the province and all indications is moose population is on decline. To anyone that has been impacted by moose -vehicle accident, my condolences. I am in no way blaming all drivers. When I am driving on highway after dark and cars blow by me doing 100+ km an hour we are taking big risks. The presence of moose simply increases the risk. Let common sense prevail..

  • Mike
    March 24, 2012 - 17:03

    It's a coyote, not a man eating monster from outer space. They are about as dangerous as a black bear. We have the right to move all over the planet and take over what ever habitat and kill whatever we choose. Now we have a relatively harmless animal that is a normal part of the ecosystem all across the continent on the island and the first thing we want to do is of course kill them all. They may not be a native species, however I don't think they got the memo or proper immigration forms in the mail when they decided to jump on that ice pan. Its nature, get over it.

    • Kent
      March 24, 2012 - 22:15

      I agree entirely... Native versus non-native, who cares? Are we going the start issuing birth certificates for animals? Furthermore, I don't understand why people are demonizing an animal with no factual information to back it up. If they are concerned about threats to people or other animals, then perhaps they should be more concerned with dangerous dog breeds, which cause far more death and injury than any wolves or coyotes...

  • marie
    March 24, 2012 - 16:21

    Maybe the moose population is because of all of the accidents with our vehicles; the declining moose population should not be an issue Mr. French but the increase of deaths along our highways because of moose should be an issue. Put your priorities first, humans first, moose second (moose burgers can me manufactured to our grocery stores for us to enjoy and bring in financial income) and this will save lives! We have too many moose, why not increase moose licences and give it to those who do not have to drive 100 miles or more to get a moose!!!!!

  • Joelle
    March 24, 2012 - 13:51

    Umm.. Moose are not native to Newfoundland. Perhaps this is natures way of restoring the balance. How about we get some ecologists/biologists to talk on the subject instead of a politician.

  • Hunter
    March 24, 2012 - 13:46

    I have a few questions about Coyotes in Newfoundland.... Excluding the black bear, Newfoundland did not have a large predator for quite a while. The Newfoundland Wolf disappeared in the early 1900’s. There were several factors at play leading to the wolf’s extinction here: Be it noted there was a bounty in place at the time –But, perhaps the largest single contributor was a significant decline in the island’s caribou population at the time. It’s generally understood the coyote migrated to our island over sea ice in 1985. Seems odd that it took so many years for the coyote species to find its way onto our island all on its own - Why didn’t this happen sooner? Now our government considers this invasive species a “Natural” part of our wildlife population. Have they given up to despair? Or, are they aware that the coyote’s was introduced to the island via human intervention? Government’s knowledge on the island’s wildlife ecology is only as good as the information compiled by the province’s Wildlife Division. Are they properly funded to gather that information by independently studying the coyote here on the island? – Or have they relied on findings from other jurisdictions (Canadian Provinces and eastern American States)? Is the coyote population on Newfoundland at its peak? Or is it still growing? Safe to say we do not as yet have a good understanding of the dynamics associated with the coyote on the island of Newfoundland. Is this predator’s presence in Newfoundland is too fresh for the Wildlife Division to make credible statements on coyote impact on our island’s ecology? If the coyote’s natural prey goes into decline - Will we see coyote predation on pets tethered in the backyards of cities and towns in Newfoundland? If there is a new predator lurking in the wilds of Newfoundland – One that can get to 82 pounds – Will we end-up having to carry firearms as personal protection on berry picking trips?

  • Harold
    March 24, 2012 - 13:21

    this guy is a minister in our provincial government and this is his main concern?? to me, less moose means more safety when driving, not just for me but for everyone.. maybe something you should worry about Terry is "Coyotes" now they are certainly becoming a topic of concern. don'y just wait until someone gets attacked before you act. lets show some leacership Mr. French..

    • John
      March 24, 2012 - 16:18

      He is the ENVIRONMENT MINISTER! Moose fall under ENVIRONMENT last I checked.

  • willie
    March 24, 2012 - 11:26

    Now let me get this right. The Minister is concerned that the decline in the moose population on the Avalon is "frightening". Wouldn't the decline in the population reduce the number of auto accidents and possibly reduce the number of deaths?? Just wondering !!!

    • Kent
      March 24, 2012 - 13:49

      Acutally no... Staying off the cell phone, reducing your speed (day and night) and paying attention to the road helps decrease moose accidents.

  • Don II
    March 24, 2012 - 11:12

    It appears that Minister French just says whatever his bureaucrat buddies tell him to say without checking the facts for himself. Minister French does not know what he is talking about on this one. Coyotes are nothing to be afraid of. Really? Tell that to the family of a 20 year old woman from Toronto who was savagely attacked and mauled to death by coyotes while she was walking on a trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park a couple of years ago! Tell that to owners of domestic pets such as cats and small dogs which are regularly killed by coyotes! Tell that to farmers who lose livestock every week to coyote attack! Up until a few years ago, the rocket scientists in the Government of Newfoundland were denying that coyotes even existed in Newfoundland! Coyotes are natural predators for moose and will quickly destroy large moose populations. A few coyotes can easily take down moose that weigh 1000 pounds or more. What is French really planning to do about this threat to our ecosystem? Nothing to worry about? Give me a break!

  • Michael
    March 24, 2012 - 10:33

    Moose kill dozens of people every year. They are not native to the island's ecosystem and have done real damage to parts of it through over-grazing. Why is this a bad thing?

  • BR
    March 24, 2012 - 10:15

    Now there's an attitude. We can't do anything about coyotes. Don't go camping. Don't go fishing. Don't carry any food or walk your pets in the woods. Maybe the plan is to cut all the trees for lumber ????? There must be a solution ... a bullet maybe????

  • sparky
    March 24, 2012 - 10:05

    I`m with "MBC"!,but French & other ministers have to do something to "look busy".

  • MBC
    March 24, 2012 - 08:34

    MINISTER FRENCH....how about a speech on the DECLINE OF DEATHS FROM MOOSE ACCIDENTS. Get rid of coyotes, we want them as much as we want politicians.