Aerial Surveys Show Declines in Northern Ontario
THUNDER BAY ON ------- April 16, 2014 ---- To ensure moose populations remain healthy and resilient, Ontario is reducing adult moose tags across the province by about 18 per cent for 2014.
The reductions are in response to declining moose populations in northern Ontario, which were noted by provincial biologists during this winter's annual aerial surveys. The largest tag reductions will occur in areas with the largest declines.
Ontario has been working with key stakeholders and the hunting community to respond to these changes and plans to seek public input this summer on next steps.
For more information about the moose tags available in your area, see the 2014 Hunting Summary Regulations at ontario.ca/hunting. Ontario's moose draw opens on April 22, 2014.
"While this is not encouraging news for moose hunters, it does present the opportunity to re-evaluate how we share in the management of the moose resource. We would like to work cooperatively with the Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate this trend and subsequently make changes to manage moose, with confidence that this declining trend can be turned around." John Kaplanis, executive director, Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen’s Alliance
Moose populations are showing signs of decline in most areas of northeastern Ontario and in the more accessible parts of northwestern Ontario.
The Ministry of Natural Resources conducts moose aerial inventory surveys each year to track trends in the population. Moose population trends are also assessed through hunter surveys each fall.
Specifically, this winter's surveys showed the following changes:
•Northwest: Aerial surveys were flown in 14 of the 30 wildlife management units. Moose populations are estimated to be stable in five, stable-to-decreasing in three, and decreasing in five. Notable decreases were seen in wildlife management units 5 and 8 in Dryden District, 14 in Nipigon District, 13 in Thunder Bay District and 9B and 11A in Fort Frances District. See the associated chart for more details.
•Northeast: Aerial surveys were flown in seven of the 27 wildlife management units. Moose populations are estimated to be stable in one and decreasing in six. Decreases were seen in wildlife management units 23 in Hearst District, 28 in Kirkland Lake District, 32 in Wawa District, 35 and 36 in Sault Ste. Marie District and 41 in North Bay District, whereas the population is stable for 39 in Sudbury District. See the associated chart for more details.
•Southern: Aerial surveys were flown in four of the 15 wildlife management units. Moose populations are estimated to be stable to increasing in all wildlife management units surveyed. See the associated chart for more details.
Factors such as harvest, predation, parasites, habitat condition and low calf numbers can all contribute to shifts in moose population. There have also been concerns about the health of moose populations in areas close to Ontario, such as Minnesota and Manitoba. Ontario will continue to monitor the moose population and collaborate with the hunting community to ensure moose populations are sustainable.
Ontario is working to determine how to best respond to emerging pressures on moose through the Moose Project, which is looking at how many moose Ontario's habitat can sustain and possible changes to how and when they can be hunted, such as adjusting hunting season lengths. The province plans to seek public input on these new approaches this summer.