Moose-ion accomplished: Gros Morne reports forest growing back after 7-year cull

Gros Morne National Park says a seven-year effort to reduce the number of hungry moose seems to have been a success.

Park staff say moose population within its boundaries reduced by about 3,000 animals since 2011

Gros Morne National Park says it's already seeing new forest growth since the moose population was reduced. (John Rieti/CBC)

Gros Morne National Park says a seven-year effort to control the area's moose population seems to have been a success.

Even just going for a casual stroll in the park you can see this difference.- Tom Knight

Hunting within national park boundaries is usually prohibited.

But in 2011, Parks Canada began allowing a small hunt in Gros Morne.

About 200 moose were killed that year, and about 600 in each subsequent year.

It was an attempt to cut down the population, after studies showed that the roughly 5,000 moose in the park had eaten so much regenerating forest that up to 65 square kilometres had been converted to grasslands.

Now, those overseeing the project say they've reduced the population to their target of about 2,000 moose, which equals roughly two moose for every square kilometre of forest and scrub in the park.

Tom Knight is a project manager for Forest Health at Gros Morne National Park. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Tom Knight, who's in charge of forest health with Gros Morne National Park, said both monitoring studies and anecdotal evidence show the moose cull has already led to forest regrowth.

"We're seeing a lot more young trees and shrubs starting to grow in the understory and we're seeing a lot lower browsing rates on those trees," he told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

"It's quite striking, even just going for a casual stroll in the park you can see this difference where a lot more of that next generation of forest is starting to come back now."

The cull in Gros Morne was launched in 2011 after it was determined 65 square kilometres of forest and shrubs had been destroyed by foraging moose. (Radio-Canada)

Now that the target moose population has been reached, hunting licences for the park area will be scaled back until the number of animals has stabilized.

Knight said the moose population in Gros Morne will continue to be closely watched.

"Given that we don't really have a significant predator on the island for moose, without the hunting activity we suspect the moose population would quite rapidly respond to any reduction in hunting pressure," he said,

"We've had excellent response from all our hunters in the province, they've been really helpful and done a great job of working with us and we're really pleased with how the program turned out."

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show