Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne says there’s no evidence of a serious parasitic outbreak in Newfoundland’s moose, but measures will be taken to address the reportedly low number of animals in some areas of the island.
In an interview Friday, the minister responded to a story reported earlier this week involving hunters who harvested a sick moose.
The hunters from Clarenville shot the moose on the Northern Peninsula. After they cut it open, they noticed the meat was unusually sparse and had a pale colour to it. They also noted the bones of the animal seemed brittle and that droppings found near the kill did not look healthy.
Officials with the wildlife division later confirmed the moose, which the hunters handed over to authorities, had been stricken with parasites.
Byrne told The Western Star that it is natural for some moose to be afflicted by parasites and there was no evidence the parasites found in this particular moose were unusual or that the problem of parasites making moose sick is alarmingly rampant in the province.
While hunters who kill moose not fit for human consumption can be granted a new licence if they submit the carcass and their original tags, Byrne urged hunters to exercise caution while trying to bag their big game. He said it is incumbent on hunters to know the animal they are taking and to make sure as best they can that it is not a sick animal.
Hunters and outfitters on the Northern Peninsula in central Newfoundland have been reporting there seem to be fewer moose these days. Byrne said those concerns are being taken seriously and measures will be taken to try to relieve the hunting pressure on the stock.
He said government will be announcing there will be fewer licences issued for the big game hunting season that will start in late 2018.
He added that the province is continuously assessing the reasons for why moose numbers may be decreasing, but noted increased hunting pressure and possibly increased predation by animals such as bears, coyote and wolf are also important factors.
There were 5,000 extra licences added in 2012 and those same numbers of licences have been given out every year since, Byrne said.