The moose population on the island of Newfoundland has dropped to 115, 000 animals from a high of about 150,000 in 1997 due to an increase in hunting, according to the province's environment minister.

Environment Minister Terry French attributed the drop in the number of animals to an increase in hunting licences.

"We've increased the harvest numbers significantly in the last couple of years, increased them between 6000 and 7000 animals," said French.

"So, after a while that takes its toll on the population, even though we still have a very healthy population."

French told CBC News he believes the public hasn't registered the decline because the public has more information about moose via social media and traffic reporting.

"A few years back, we didn't see them that much, didn't know they were there as much. So, even though the population is smaller, we know a lot more about them," said French.

French added it’s important to protect the economy in rural communities.

"When you go out in rural communities, the outfitting industry contributes $30-million to 40-million annually [to the economy]," said French.

"We can't just open flood gates and overhunt on a species, and then somewhere down life's road say, 'What happened? Where'd all the moose go?’"

The decline in the number of moose has prompted the provincial government to begin work on a five-year moose management plan expected in 2013.