Moose cull set for national parks in N.L.
Moose will soon be killed in two national parks in Newfoundland, with officials saying the population of the animals is destroying forests and habitat for other species.
Later this year, hunting for moose will be allowed for the first time in Gros Morne National Park in western Newfoundland, and Terra Nova National Park in eastern Newfoundland.
Parks Canada said it was forced to take action because of destruction that moose have caused to habitat for other species.
"More and more you can see areas — not just small forest stands or individual, small clumps of trees but huge landscapes - that are starting to be essentially denuded of mature forest," said Peter Deering, a conservation manager at Gros Morne National Park.
"Bird communities will change. Small mammal communities will change. Even species of other shrubs and forest plants that grow on the forest floor will change," he said.
No numbers have been determined for the hunt, which will be held in conjunction with the annual hunt across the island this fall.
Parks Canada tracked the health of its forests for years before making the decision.
"Their numbers have increased spectacularly since [introduction in the early 20th century] because they lack a primary predator, there are no common moose diseases here, and the boreal forest provides an ideal habitat," Parks Canada said in a statement.
Officials said that areas once dominated by trees are converting to grassland, and the diversity in the woods is "dramatically decreasing."
Parks Canada said similar measures have successfully been taken involving deer in protected areas in Ontario and B.C.
The move is not a surprise. In its own literature distributed to park patrons in recent years, Parks Canada has warned of moose overpopulation and its effects on habitat.
Last year, the Crown agency said a cull was in the works.
As many as 150,000 moose have been estimated to roam the woods and bogs of Newfoundland, with about 5,000 moose believed to be in Gros Morne alone.
The provincial government has come under fire for moose management policies, particularly involving moose-vehicle collisions. A class action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of victims of such crashes.