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Letter: Help keep the moose hunt sustainable

On the Northern Peninsula, there are worries that the moose population is down.- File photo
A moose on the Northern Peninsula. — SaltWire Network file photo

With moose hunting season just about closed on the island portion of the province, the national park hunt (slaughter) ends Feb.

I’m predicting that this year, we will witness the lowest success rate ever.

We are anxiously and nervously awaiting Minister Gerry Byrne’s announcement on licence reduction, which he publicly announced in The Western Star. When we, the Newfoundland Association of Hunters and Anglers, met with Byrne on Dec. 4, 2017, we suggested a reduction of a minimum of 5,000 up to 10,000-plus licences.

Along with the reduction, Byrne indicated his department would be increasing the number of aerial surveys annually, from five to seven this year. Last year there were five, but two were cancelled due to weather. These aerial surveys are the only real scienwtific data; otherwise, the current moose population estimate is only a guess. Keep in mind that there are over 40 big game moose management areas (MMAs). 

We, the hunters, have to take a more active role. The all too common response is, “What can I do? What difference can I make? Let someone else do it.” The level of apathy is unbelievable, and unless we hunters step up to the plate and do something, it will be too late. Then we will say the three dreaded words: coulda, woulda, shoulda.

With the elimination of the jawbone analysis study, there is not much science being applied to the overall health of the herd. With the elimination of the hunter crest program, more hunters are not sending in their licence returns.

If the government doesn’t act now and do the right thing, the moose hunt as we know it could be over in five years.

The first thing we all have to do is very simple but extremely important, whether it’s successful or not. Fill out your licence return honestly, and as soon as possible. It is mandatory to complete and submit the return each year that you receive a big game licence. Historically there has been only a 30 to 40 per cent return rate.

It is vitally important to submit the returns this year because this is one of the only true indicators as to what the population actually is. These returns can be handwritten and mailed or filed online. 

These returns will provide the Wildlife Division with real information from the boots on the ground. Hopefully, with increased returns, the department will realize the importance of this co-operation and will assign proper and adequate staff to process this important and valuable information in a timely fashion.

From the information derived from these returns, Wildlife will realize that what we have been saying all along is true. Hopefully, they will make a further reduction of licences, which is possible, because in the guidebook, government says that the number of licences can be adjusted in a mid-season review.

We have no hidden agendas and are providing factual information. We are not playing on people’s emotions and we are not fear-mongering.What is our agenda? We want to preserve the traditional moose hunt for ourselves, but most importantly for our kids and theirs to come. The most important way to do this is by allocating the proper number of annual licences that will keep the hunt sustainable.

If the government doesn’t act now and do the right thing, the moose hunt as we know it could be over in five years. Look at the prime examples already — the caribou and codfish here on the island and the caribou in Labrador. Who was raising the alarm in all three cases? The boots on the ground.

Join the Newfoundland Association of Hunters and Anglers. Check us out on Facebook. We have/will/are making a difference. The time is now. How will you answer your grandchild when they ask, “Grandma/dad, why can’t we go moose hunting?”

Barry Fordham
Newfoundland Association of Hunters and Anglers
St. John’s

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