It is almost unthinkable that moose could disappear from our forests.  We are looking for help from people who know about and care for moose to build creative solutions together.  Please participate in a survey through the link near the end of this blog to add your voice.

The intense connection between people and moose is undeniable. Moose provide an important aspect of food security for remote communities and valued traditions of wildlife viewing and sport hunting.  It supports the northern economy with many direct and indirect benefits including jobs in guiding, outfitting, the service industry and government.

Over the last few years, emails and journal articles referencing moose troubles began trickling into our inboxes.  First Nations and non-native hunters began to speak of a worrying decline in moose numbers.  Our supporters asked us what we thought. We noticed that moose were becoming less common on our travels in the bush and moose concerns were a frequent topic in many northern communities.  After a particularly emotional meeting with one of our members from Northern Ontario, where the plight of the moose was impressed upon us with passion, eloquence and substantial evidence, we were convinced to dig further into the moose issue. Our moose work was born!

For many Ontarians, moose are intrinsic to the north woods experience and way of life. They are a part of the landscape and elicit feelings ranging from awe to humour.   Nicknames, like ‘swamp donkey’, expose our affection for them even as we attempt to hide it.  The decline of moose is serious for its direct social and ecological consequences.  Without moose, our experience of Northern Ontario would be much poorer. That they would disappear from these forests is almost unthinkable.  Yet their numbers continue to dwindle.

Moose are in serious decline in Ontario and several other jurisdictions in North America, particularly in the central and southern parts of their range.  In Minnesota, moose have declined to the extent that they suspended the moose hunt indefinitely in 2013. Dramatic declines there and in Michigan have resulted in their status as a ‘species of concern’ with recent talk of listing them as an endangered species.

The Ontario government has responded to declines in population by launching its own Moose Project (https://www.ontario.ca/page/moose-population-management) a couple of years ago to look for ways to reduce pressure on moose and restore populations. So far, this has included changes to the hunting season amongst other measures.

As we begin our own work, we are becoming informed on what could be behind the moose decline. We are reaching out to people from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives who know and care about moose.

It appears potential causes of moose decline are numerous and inter-related.  They include climate change and associated effects, industrial disturbance, habitat loss, excessive hunting pressure, disease, pollution and infrastructure development. All these may interact in complex ways and will likely vary from region to region in their impacts.

As we continue to review the literature and connect with people, we invite anyone with an interest in and/or knowledge of moose to participate in our confidential survey.  We want to hear from you.

The survey can be found at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2912957/Ontario-Moose-Management

The survey results will help us all identify potential solutions that have a high likelihood of success for moose and for the people who care about them. We plan to share our survey results this fall.

 

Stay tuned for more updates, blogs and opportunities to express your thoughts as we continue to find out more about moose, unravel the mystery of their decline and think about solutions.

 

(In case you were wondering, don’t worry, caribou is still a priority!)

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