Manitoba moose hunting closures could be partially lifted next fall

Manitoba Sustainable Development may allow a limited moose harvest next fall in areas which have been closed to all hunters since 2011 for conservation reasons.

In a letter obtained by CTV News from Manitoba Sustainable Development to the Manitoba Metis Federation, the province said limited harvests of two per cent of the population may be allowed in Duck Mountain and Porcupine Mountain.

The letter is part of a provincial process to engage key stakeholders on a sustainable moose management plan.

It states the moose population in Porcupine Mountain has remained stable at around 1000 animals since the closure was put into place, with the cow-calf ratio and cow-bull ratio improving.

“We believe that a limited harvest could occur by next fall,” the letter states. “A harvest of no more than 2 per cent of the population by all users should maintain or grow this moose population.”

In Duck Mountain, the province said the moose population has increased slightly to 2000 animals since the closure.

“The population continues to recover slowly and we believe there is potential for significant increases,” the letter reads. “We are anticipating creating a limited hunting opportunity next fall. This harvest would have to be set at no more than 2 per cent of the population to allow for the population to continue to grow.”

MMF president David Chartrand said there won’t be enough moose to meet the combined demands of rights-based harvesters and licensed hunters.

“Two per cent of the population of a thousand can be used – that’s 20 moose,” said Chartrand. “How do Metis harvesters continue to practice their way of life, continue to hunt moose and feed their families.”

“You’re talking totality – the entire central part of our province, you’re talking about 60 moose for all Manitoba. Tell me how can that be.”

The province says ending the closures without an adequate plan in place would undermine efforts to recover the moose population in these areas, adding the closures will remain in place if users can’t agree to a sustainable harvest.

“If consensus on how to manage these moose populations has not been achieved by next fall’s hunting season, the current closures will remain in effect until a sustainable shared moose management plan can be developed.”

The game hunting areas affected are 18, 18A, 18B, 18C and areas 13 and 13A.

Retired wildlife biologist Vince Crichton, who used to work for the province, said Tuesday Sustainable Development should close the entire southern portion of the province to all moose hunting to allow the population to recover.

The province said additional closures could be imposed if it’s determined they could help the moose population.