John Blake, director of wildlife management with the Department of Environment (left), Environment Minister Charlene Johnson, and Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson announce changes to moose management in the province today. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
More moose hunting licences and a longer season to hunt on the island portion of the province, were among changes announced today in St. John's or this year's big game hunting season.
In outlining changes to aimed at better managing the province's moose population, Environment Minister Charlene Johnson also confirmed that Sunday hunting will begin on the first Sunday in October. Additionally, non-profit moose licences will be increased from 150 to 200.
A five-year moose management plan will also be established.
"We have reviewed our current approach to management of this species, and we have determined that a number of changes are warranted," Johnson said. "These changes will positively impact our ability to adequately manage this particular animal.
"Overall, island moose populations are healthy, with total island estimates at approximately 120,000."
According to a news release, a total of 2,154 new resident hunting licences will be added for the 2010 hunting season. This increase reflects the information gathered through trend data collected annually from hunter licence returns, aerial surveys conducted in several moose management areas, and areas with lower success rates for harvesting moose.
The introduction of a longer hunting season by three weeks supports the goal of maximizing the number of moose harvested by encouraging hunting in more remote or semi-remote areas. This will also provide increased opportunity for those hunters not successful earlier in the year.
In the western/central Newfoundland Moose Management Areas (MMAs), the season will now close Jan. 2. In the eastern MMAs, the season will now close Jan. 23.
The minister noted the changes will also help address concerns regarding forest health in remote regions of the province. Increased hunting pressure in these areas will assist in controlling habitat degradation caused by moose over-browsing forest vegetation.
Eugene Nippard, leader of the save our people action committee, said these changes are a good first step, but it is not enough.