British Columbia

Moose scientists 'muzzled' during B.C. election

A conference on moose that was supposed to he held in Prince George this weekend was cancelled after government scientists scheduled to speak had to back out.
A moose makes its way through a snowy field near Lake Louise, Alta. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A conference that was supposed to explore the dramatic drop in moose numbers in B.C. has been postponed after government scientists scheduled to speak had to back out, organizers said.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the Spruce City Wildlife Association said experts slated to speak at its moose symposium in Prince George this weekend were told they're not allowed to discuss government business while the election is underway.

"So all the speakers, all the regional biologists, they could attend, but they couldn't say anything," said Jim Glaicar, one of the event organizers.

Glaicar says the conference will be rescheduled to sometime after the election, likely in June.

Moose on the decline

Organizers say the symposium invited biologists, hunters and conservationists, and was to explore the dramatic drop in moose numbers.

Last year, B.C. reported a 50 to 70 per cent drop in moose populations in parts of northern and interior B.C.

"From what we understand, it's a myriad of reasons, from food sources, to predators, to ticks. There's not one item that anyone has been able to tell us. So the purpose of the symposium was to find out what all those reasons could be," he said.

Glaicar says he is disappointed the conference had to be postponed.

"I don't believe it's fair, and there's no secret information. We weren't looking for future policies, future plans. We were looking for: 'Give us the numbers of moose and what your plan is.'"

A hungry young moose who took a stroll through a Safeway grocery store in Smithers died after it was tranquilized and transferred by B.C. Conservation officers. (@aspensmithers/Twitter)

In February, officials in Alberta announced that a moose that was killed by a vehicle near Medicine Hat tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Last week, a young tick-ridden moose died after seeking food inside a Safeway grocery store in Smithers, B.C. Conservation officers said the hungry moose collapsed and died after being tranquilized and relocated outside of town.

With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey