Moose Population in Eastern Manitoba Still Needs Help
The moose population in Game Hunting Area (GHA 26) of eastern Manitoba has been in serious decline over the last decade. The Committee for Cooperative Moose Management (CCMM), a committee of the MBMF, has been busy working with government, communities and stakeholders in the region to reverse this population trend. Management actions which were initiated in 2010, including a complete closure to hunting in the GHA by licensed hunters and a closure to hunting for Indigenous peoples in strategic parts of the GHA, as well as road and access decommissioning and other actions appear to have stopped the decline. However, the most recent aerial survey (in January 2016) indicates that there is still more work to be done. Despite this, there is reason for optimism.
There are a number of trends that point to a moose population that is on the mend. Firstly, the 2013 and 2016 survey results clearly indicate that the moose population has not dropped below its recent low of 823 moose in the year 2010. In addition, the 2016 calf to cow ratio of 44 calves to 100 cows indicates that recruitment (the survival of calves in their first year of life) is sufficient to permit the moose population to grow. This ratio has been steadily improving since 2010. Similarly, the ratio of bulls to cows in 2016 (59 bulls per 100 cows), is more than sufficient to ensure that all cows of reproductive age are bred.
The CCMM is in the final stages of completing a comprehensive report on the status of the moose population in GHA 26 (including what is known about the factors affecting the moose population, such as hunting, predation, disease, etc.). As part of the status report, the CCMM will also be submitting an extensive list of recommendations to the provincial government that the committee would like to see implemented in order to continue to assist in the recovery of the moose population. The report and its associated recommendations will be available later this spring.
The recommendations provide a clear framework for how the CCMM and its member communities and organizations can work together to create a brighter future for the moose population in GHA 26. What is less clear is the future of the CCMMM itself. For more than 20 years, the operations of the CCMM has been financially supported largely by the MBMF and occasionally through funding provided by the provincial government and other partners. Dwindling (and since 2014, completely absent) base funding to the MBMF has put the future of this valuable multi-stakeholder committee in jeopardy. The MBMF will continue to explore avenues to keep the committee going. With a priority of the current provincial government on moose sustainability and the co-management of wildlife resources between government, Indigenous peoples and hunters in Manitoba, we hope that the CCMM can continue play an important and integral role, and that the provincial government will financially support this role.