The Department of Natural Resources’s proposal to extend the moose season is again causing criticism that economic, and not scientific, motives are driving government policy decisions.
The New Brunswick government announced in early May a plan to extend the moose season to five days from three.
The public has until June 5 to respond to the provincial government’s proposal.
'Politicians can't buy people's votes with a bottle of rum anymore and they can't afford to buy them with tax cuts so what are they left with?' - Green Party Leader David Coon
Green Party Leader David Coon said allowing hunters more time in the woods is simply trading moose for votes.
"It's completely political," he said.
"Politicians can't buy people's votes with a bottle of rum anymore and they can't afford to buy them with tax cuts so what are they left with?"
He said it's another example of the provincial government exploiting the environment.
"This is exactly consistent with the forestry plan. It flies in the face of all the advice and science that government officials have brought forward," Coon said.
However, Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud said he expected the longer moose hunting season would boost the province’s economy.
"A longer moose hunting season in New Brunswick will result in more economic benefits," Robichaud said.
In the spring, Robichaud revealed the provincial government’s new forestry plan. The plan calls for the amount of softwood that forestry companies can remove from Crown land to increase by 20 per cent.
Premier David Alward has said the plan will create 500 new forestry jobs and 1,200 construction jobs.
Opponents have criticized the deal and have asked for the deal to be put on hold until the public can be involved and more research can be done on the plan.
Moose hunt set by regulation
The length of the moose hunting season is set by a regulation in the Fish and Wildlife Act.
With the longer hunting season, the number of licences available for New Brunswick residents will be held at 4,612, the same as in 2013.
Kevin Craig, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said the longer season will have an effect on the province's moose population but not a major one.
"We've always allowed a little bit of room for moose to exploit new habitat that become available to them and under this increased harvest opportunity some of that growth will be curtailed," he said.
Craig said the amount of moose hunting allowed in New Brunswick has grown along with the population.
"We've always had room to harvest more moose and obviously we have been — we've tripled the harvest in the last 30 years from what it was," he said.
Dale Mowry, a moose hunter of 49 years, agrees the moose population is healthy but wants discretion when it comes to expanding the hunt.
"The herd’s good, but we don't want to rob the herd," he said.
"I'm very happy with the amount of licences that are out."