Moose cull in Gros Morne expanded to save habitat
A Parks Canada scientist says Gros Morne National Park has expanded the area where people will be able to hunt moose this year in the hopes of curbing an ecological issue that's been created by the animals.
This is the third year that hunters have been allowed into the park to hunt, but this year they've expanded the number of licenses issued as well as the hunting zone.
Tom Knight, an eco-scientist with Parks Canada, said the moose have been eating so much of the vegetation that it's forcing some smaller species of animals to make their home elsewhere.
"In the forest, we are obviously getting less forest cover and then that affects the animals that live in the forest, for example birds," Knight said.
"We've seen that there has been a change in the bird populations and bird communities in these areas."
Knight said increasing the opportunity for hunters to bag a moose will hopefully help put a stop to the park's changing ecosystem.
"The first year we had about 20 per cent of the park area that was in a hunting zone, then that was moved to about 40 per cent in year two when we added the southern part of the park, the lowlands," he said.
"Then this year with adding the highlands, it's moved into almost 90 per cent of the park that's open to hunting."
The hunting zone will encompass 1,600 square kilometres of the park — double what it was last year.
"When hunters are all concentrated in one area the moose population is depleted in that zone, so by expanding that area it allows hunters more animals so we get a wider area for this moose removal to take place," Knight said.
There are more than 5,000 moose in the area, and approximately 1,000 hunters will be trying to snag one before the season is over in February.