Changes needed in moose, bear management
Out in the field, I’m seeing way fewer moose hunters than ever before. When talking to people, I find that many hunters have stopped hunting moose, and in some cases, stopped hunting all together. The reasons for this trend is simple – there are far fewer moose, and the No. 1 issue is that people are frustrated and have lost all faith in the MNR’s ability at game management. And yes, that includes me. Even when the MNR ask us our opinion, at best, they give us a bit of meaningless lip service, then do as they please. If we look at the overall moose and bear numbers in many wildlife management units (WMUs), bear numbers are way up, and moose numbers way down. Of course, there are a few WMUs that have more proportionate moose numbers, but these are usually quite remote areas with little and limited accessibility. Game managers would be wise to see how the inbalance has been brought on. That is, by mismanagement of game regulations. My words to the MNR are simple – suck it up you guys, you’ve been too politically correct and favoured political correctness and your monetary supporters again, at the expense of the hunting faction and the very animals you are to serve. We have watched, often with horror, a dramatic escalation of our black bear numbers, and a simultaneous drastic reduction in our moose population. Here’s what I believe would be a simple, but effective, solution. Try some role reversal. Protect the moose, especially the cows and calves as you do for the sow bears and bear cubs. Then, use current moose management strategies on the bears. To more quickly bring down the predator populations, open the spring bear hunt again, and during the spring hunt, only allow single bears to be taken, but during the fall hunt, allow for two bears to be taken, stressing to take a mother and cub. Because moose and bears are both polygamist, allow for the taking of more males than females and or cubs. When it comes to predators, take the coyote off the wolf license here in the North and encourage interested hunters to learn how to properly prepare coyote pelts for tanning or sale. Coyote numbers have skyrocketed here in the North as elsewhere, and don’t need the level of protection that a license gives them. Many hunters won’t harvest them because of the extra cost and nuisance of another license. Coyotes, like bears, primarily predate moose calves in the spring when they are most vulnerable, and with these predator numbers way up, we are seeing the effect in prey animal reduction of not just moose, but many prey species such as rabbits, grouse and deer. When coyote numbers are up, red fox numbers are down, and coyotes prey and compete for rabbits and small game and deer with timber wolves, and being slightly smaller, are more manoeuvrable and more efficient at catching their prey than wolves. Red fox are opportunistic, but are more inclined to be effective mouse predators. More fox relates to less mice, and more coyotes means less fox as part of the equation. By reducing coyote numbers we’ll also have more red fox and, consequently, less mice. Much warmer than usual temperatures is keeping moose and deer close to water, especially this season as their winter pelage is thickening for winter. Deer hunters would be wise to pre-scout their spoor before the season, looking for scrapes and rubs, which I’m now starting to see during my time in the bush. Today, Oct. 31, is the last day of the black bear season in most of our close by WMUs, and time change is tonight. If going out on the water for some late season muskie, smallmouth bass or waterfowl, dress warmly as the water is cooling down to hyperthermic cold now. Be sure to wear your Personal Floatation Device or a floater suit when on or near the water. What are you seeing when you are out and about where you typically hunt? I’m always interested in other hunter/fisher’s opinions. To share this information, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. John Vance’s Outdoor Trail column appears every other Saturday in The Sudbury Star.