A ban on moose hunting in Manitoba is the right move, say many who hunt in the province’s southwest.
“I think everybody’s kind of glad that it’s shut off, but at the same time it’s pretty sad that it’s gone to this point where there’s hardly any moose left,” said Brad Mills.
“We archery hunt elk now in the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, and in the last eight years I’ve only seen one or two moose in all my time spent in the bush in the provincial park,” he said.
So he and others in the community weren’t shocked when the provincial government announced a ban Oct. 19 on all moose hunting in the Turtle Mountain area.
Moose hunting is now banned in five areas of Manitoba: Red Deer Lake, Duck Mountain, Swan-Pelican, Porcupine Mountain and Turtle Mountain. Hunting is closed to all groups, including licensed, Métis and aboriginal hunters.
Hunting is closed only to licensed hunters in the Nopiming area, but parts of the area are completely closed to everyone, including Métis and aboriginal hunters.
Ken Rebizant, big game manager in Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship’s wildlife branch, said the department has observed drops in moose populations of 50 percent or more in different areas of the province.
He said an aerial survey of the Turtle Mountain area this February found 100 moose, down from the 250 moose found in 2008.
The province is using hunting bans and steeper penalties for illegal hunting to rebuild the moose population. People caught illegally hunting moose can now be fined with restitution payments on top of the fines given by the courts. These restitution payments start at $2,500.
Rebizant said the moose hunting bans are intended to be temporary until the population recovers.