Moose hunting is again banned in Manitoba.
The province hoped to have a limited hunting season for moose this year, in the Duck and Porcupine Mountain regions, but the moose population hasn’t recovered sufficiently to withstand it.
The government is also banning night hunting on private land, beginning Oct. 10, as part of the Wildlife Amendment Act called Safe Hunting and Shared Management.
In 2011, Manitoba banned moose hunting in the Duck and Porcupine Mountains and some surrounding regions, along with bans in the north Interlake, Nopiming and Turtle Mountains.
Agriculture and resource development minister Blaine Pedersen said the continued ban is needed to preserve the moose.
“If we don’t act there won’t be any moose,” he said Oct. 9. “Manitoba has the duty and obligation to protect the wildlife population, including moose….”
The decision to ban moose hunting is controversial, as the Manitoba Metis Federation said they weren’t consulted. They are expected to file a lawsuit, arguing the legislation infringes on their intrinsic rights.
“I believe the Manitoba Metis Federation want to go to court about this,” Pedersen said. “People go to court. People win or lose in court. But what is going to happen here is the moose are going to lose…. They want to kill more moose but that is not good for the moose population.”
As part of the changes to the Act, the province will establish shared management committees to oversee wildlife conservation in specific regions.
“According to the legislation, Indigenous representatives must comprise at least 50 percent of every shared management committee, and the committees must also include hunters, outfitters and local land owners,” the province said in a news release.
The ban on night hunting doesn’t apply to Crown land. In southern Manitoba, right’s-based night hunting can still happen on Crown land, but only with a permit.
“You will apply in your permit as to where you want to hunt. And then it will be determined if it (night hunting) is safe or not,” Pedersen said.
Conservation officers now have more power to enforce night hunting rules in Manitoba. Manitoba restricted night hunting a couple of years ago, but government officials needed overwhelming evidence to prove night hunting infractions in court.
“Before a conservation officer could stop a pick-up truck in the bush. If you had a spotlight a rifle and ammunition, but you weren’t actually caught with an animal, it wouldn’t necessarily stand up in court,” Pedersen said. “This gives conservation officers the ability to charge when all the (circumstantial) factors are there.”
Moose population surveys in the Porcupine Mountain, done in January, indicated there were 837 to 1,157 moose. In the Duck Mountain area, the survey showed a population of 1,841 to 2,519.
The population has grown over the last 10 to 20 years, but not fast enough.
“The estimate is below historic levels and the habitat can likely support a larger population,” Manitoba Agriculture said.
Even with the ban on hunting, since 2011, moose have struggled because of high wolf and bear populations, parasites, disease and illegal hunting.
Manitoba Conservation and Climate will immediately begin cracking down on illegal hunting.
“There are critical safety concerns for both Manitobans and moose that we must consider, so we are ramping up our enforcement efforts in these areas to ensure the safety of all Manitobans,” said minister Sarah Guillemard. “Conservation officers will continue to prioritize enforcement against illegal night hunting, including with night-time flights, and a reallocation of resources to address key areas of concern.”