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

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on March 24, 2012
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