Activist 'shocked, disappointed, disgusted' by province's move to increase antlerless moose hunt
Moose hunt increase would ultimately protect mountain caribou, province says
Advocates for ending the hunt of antlerless moose are concerned about a potential increase in the number of cow moose and calves that can be hunted and harvested in some parts of the province.
For the past five years, Dan Simmons has been leading the charge for the Cow Moose Sign project, which was created to inform others about the importance of antlerless moose. He has signed agreements with local First Nations, guide outfitters and local governments to ensure protection of the local cow moose population.
"The cow moose shouldn't be hunted at all, or the calf moose," he told Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.
"If we harvest antlerless moose, we're taking away from the population and it's clearly known throughout the province ... that the moose population is declining. So why would we kill antlerless moose?"
He said he was "shocked, disappointed, disgusted" to learn the provincial government is looking at an increase to the number of antlerless moose that could be hunted this year — official numbers are expected to be released in the coming days or weeks.
B.C.'s director of wildlife and habitat, Jennifer Psyllakis, said the proposed numbers for moose cow and calf tags are not significant over last year — in 2019, 357 authorizations were issued, and this year, the province is looking to increase that to 400. Of the 357 tags issued in 2019, 79 antlerless moose were killed.
Reducing predators of mountain caribou
Reducing the number of moose in particular areas is expected to reduce the number of wolves, which are threatening mountain caribou, according to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development.
"Mountain caribou recovery is a top priority for this government; it is a worthwhile trade-off to remove a few moose, a species whose population is secure throughout the northern hemisphere, if it assists in saving another species from extinction," the ministry said in an emailed statement.
"The number of authorizations that are being considered for antlerless moose are very localized, primarily in two areas of the province where caribou populations and herds are being actively managed for recovery," Psykallis said.
"Almost all of the authorizations and all of the expected harvest is expected to occur within those very localized areas. The research that the province is working on is looking at multiple management actions that are aimed towards recovering caribou in these particular areas."
Simmons, however, doesn't believe that one species should be "sacrificed" to save another.
He said he and his supporters, including B.C. MLA Donna Barnett, will continue to fight this decision. The B.C. Liberal party has started an online petition to end the hunt on antlerless moose. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had garnered more than 2,300 signatures since it was launched four days before.
"I want [the provincial government] just to know that we're going to fight this to the end," Simmons said.
"We're going to try to stop this antlerless hunt."
With files from Daybreak North and Nicole Oud