Eliminating moose calf hunt won't save dwindling population, hunting lobby says

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says eliminating the moose calf hunt won't help deal with the declining number of moose in the province.

Eliminating calf hunt would be politically popular, without addressing the problem OFAH says

Mary Ryckman, a biologist with the federation, said any move to ban the calf hunt would be like going after “low hanging fruit,” a popular political move without addressing the root cause of the herd’s decline. (Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth, AP Photo)

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) says eliminating the moose calf hunt won't help deal with the declining number of moose in the province.

Last week, the Wildlands League called on the provincial government to eliminate the moose calf hunt to ease pressure on the struggling population.

Mark Ryckman, a biologist with the hunting lobby group, said banning the calf hunt would be going after "low hanging fruit" — a popular political move that does not address the root cause of the herd's decline.

"We know how influential some anti-hunting groups can be," Ryckman said.

"But realistically, to reverse the declining moose population we need something that's going to work," Ryckman said. "Prohibiting the calf harvest is not going to do it."

40,000 moose calves born, only 800 hunted

Currently the province's moose herd stands around 90,000.

In 2015, licensed hunters harvested 800 calves, Ryckman said, compared to 1,400 the year before.

Ryckman said the moose calf hunt is not the cause of the species' decline.

"You would expect 40,000 calves produced every year," Ryckman said. "We're pessimistic that removing 800 would make any difference whatsoever."

Ryckman said many of the calves don't survive the winter, and therefore would not contribute to the province's overall population.

Ban would eliminate pressure on government, federation says

Ryckman said the federation is pushing the province to spend resources on studying why the population is declining.

"We're behind the eight ball already," he said.

The calf hunting ban takes the pressure off the government to examine what is causing the decline, and won't improve moose populations, Ryckman said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said she hasn't heard of any potential changes to the moose hunting season, and is trying to take a balanced approach to the herd's decline.

Jolanta Kowalski said the herd is being affected by a variety of factors including climate change, parasites and predators.

"We're managing [the decline] by reducing moose tags in some cases, reducing the length of the hunt, and shortening the season for hunting calf moose," Kowalski said.

With files from Cathy Alex, Jason Turnbull


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