This year’s quota for the annual moose hunt in the Cariboo Chilcotin has been reduced by 35 per cent to address conservation concerns.
“The annual allowable harvest was reduced by 35 per cent compared to 2012,” Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Rodger Stewart said Monday.
“The moose hunt in this part of the region is driven by limited entry hunting for bulls only.”
Once the ministry has accounted for what the First Nations take is estimated to be, it determines the annual allowable harvest, Stewart said.
“That leftover amount is split between resident hunters of B.C. and the clients of guide outfitters.”
There is less hunting opportunity for bull moose in the region, he added.
However, the only place that a limited amount of cow moose can be harvested is in management unit 515, East of Horsefly and Likely, in the Cariboo Mountains to contribute to mountain caribou recovery.
“It is in the areas we are seeing the steepest decline,” he said, otherwise there is no authorized hunting of cow moose by resident or guided hunters in any other areas.
Moose hunting opened Sept. 10 and goes until Nov. 15, but it won’t be until May 2014 that the ministry will received an estimate of the take numbers.
“It will probably be confirmed by about now. The information we are receiving now will be for the 2012 hunting season.”
Limited resident hunting authorizations go out in June and hunters plan their hunt.
“When you receive a limited hunting authorization it allows you to hunt for and take a single bull moose some time within a two-week period,” Stewart explained. There are four sub-seasons – Sept. 10 – 30, Oct. 1 – 15, Oct. 16-31 and Nov. 1 – 15.
Hunters are randomly selected to participate in a random wildlife harvest survey conducted through the winter and the results will be used to help determine the upcoming annual allowable harvest.
Guide outfitters, however, must within 30 days of a harvest’s completion, file a guide outfitter declaration with the ministry.
“So we know with a very high degree of certainty what the guided hunters are taking,” Stewart said. “They take a very significantly smaller number of any game species than the resident hunters do because within the allocation hierarchy they are at the bottom of the ladder.”
Conservation is at the top, to ensure the population is viable.
After that First Nations have the first share, resident hunters have the second share, and guide outfitters have what’s left, Stewart added.
Moose report suggests more research needed
Stewart said a moose report prepared by Wildlife Infometrics Ltd. of Mackenzie, B.C. for the ministry, was completed at the end of July to help determine the cause of the moose population decline..
“They have a strong reputation as wildlife experts in the province,” Stewart said. “We obtained their services to get a better understanding on the influence of different factors that are working on the moose population.”
The moose population is changing, he added.
Delving into the research, the company determined “there is no one single issue,” that is causing the significant declines in a large proportion of the region.
“There may be issues that are working in concert with each other, but the data set to drive the necessary determinations of these influences is not near complete.”
Further research and evaluation will have to be done, he added.