Outfitters want in on moose cull
A plan to cull moose in national parks in Newfoundland is drawing criticism from an outfitter on the west coast who says businesses like his should have a role.
Parks Canada announced Tuesday it will be holding a cull to halt the destruction of habitat in Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks.
Outfitter Roger Keough, who is based in Parson's Pond, said it would be unfair to give individual moose hunters licences to hunt in the park while excluding outfitters from the hunt in the park.
Keough said he believes people who lost out when Gros Morne was created should get first crack at the new licences.
"The outfitters on the boundary of the park gave up a lot of land and [have] never been able to hunt there. So now they're going to reopen the park and we're not going to be able to hunt there again?" he said.
He also said the cull is more likely to achieve its goal if outfitters are included.
Keough said individual hunters won't venture far into the woods to kill a moose, but outfitters are more likely to use helicopters and float planes to access remote areas of the park where most of the animals are believed to be located.
"Who's going to kill the animals in the interior of the park? You know locals are not going to hire helicopters or float planes that's going to cost them thousands of dollars when they can kill a moose at the side of the highway."
'Numbers have increased spectacularly'— Parks Canada statement
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 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.