A retired Manitoba wildlife biologist is sounding the alarm over the province’s moose population.
Vince Crichton is renewing calls for an expanded hunting ban in the southern half of the province, to help protect the species.
Some portions of Manitoba are already closed to moose hunting but Crichton says the province needs to go a step further.
He says the species has been in decline over the past four decades due in part to disease, getting hit by vehicles, predation by wolves and overhunting.
“If we keep going this route there’s not going to be anything left,” said Crichton. “We’re in a situation today that really requires some strategies that are going to be controversial, there’s no doubt about it.”
Crichton said the entire southern portion of the province, anything south of a line between The Pas and Bissett, should be closed to licensed hunters and rights-based harvesters.
“We’ve got nine game hunting areas there that I looked at that have an average of 130 moose in them,” said Crichton. “There shouldn’t be any form of licensed hunting or unregulated hunting in those areas.”
Manitoba Sustainable Development said there is a possibility additional closures could be added if it’s determined they could help the population.
Existing conservation closures in the province came through consultation with First Nations and Metis communities.
Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels doesn’t think new bans, alone, will solve the problem.
“We’re not saying that we’re totally opposed to it but what we’re saying is that let’s start to look at the real science behind it, let’s look at the real reasons,” said Daniels. “At the end of the day we have the treaty right and we have to make decisions for ourselves. It can’t be unilateral and that’s really been the problem with colonial governments.”
Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said the organization won’t support any new bans, adding hunters want existing bans ended.
“We want to start eating our moose meat again,” said Chartrand. “We want to go back to that because we’re missing that, it helps health-wise, it helps cost-wise. Our people miss that. I miss eating moose meat myself, personally.”
Crichton has a meeting with Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires in January to discuss the moose population.