Aerial moose inventories to reconsider

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Hunting zone 28 is too large to have an accurate picture of the various moose populations in the territory.  ZECs should conduct their own moose population inventory.

This provincial hunting zone, which welcomes nearly 30,000 moose hunters every year, has an area of ​​65,636 square kilometers. This is a very large territory, and it is hard to believe that aerial moose inventory results give us an accurate picture of the situation.

Those responsible for the inventory made in winter 2023 estimated the winter population density at 4.16 moose per 10 square kilometers.

Compared to the previous inventory, which was carried out in 2006, this represents a sharp increase in the population, an increase of 378%. As the last inventory dates back 18 years, it is not a reliable element of comparison, even if it is the only inventory made by the Ministry.

Petition for additional inventories

The Quebec Federation of Hunters and Fishermen (FédéCP) posted a petition online at the beginning of November on the website of the National Assembly asking the Government of Quebec and the MELCCFP to take concrete steps to strengthen the monitoring of the populations of moose in the province to preserve our wildlife heritage and ensure that moose hunting continues to be at its best.

The FédéCP calls for increased resources for the aerial inventory program to offer accurate, up-to-date, and continuous monitoring of moose populations in the province, and in particular to increase the frequency of inventories throughout the territory of Quebec. . It also calls for the annual and systematic publication of all data collected by the government about the moose population.

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The FédéCP emphasizes that the appropriate management of moose populations is essential to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, supporting local economies, and guaranteeing access to the territory for all Quebec residents and visitors. FédéCP wants close collaboration between the government, indigenous communities, hunters, and other stakeholders to find solutions that benefit everyone.

Hunting Zone 28 Is Too Large To Have An Accurate Picture Of The Various Moose Populations In The Territory.  Zecs Should Conduct Their Own Moose Population Inventory.

“Everything measured can be improved,” someone said recently, and it’s important to measure the moose population more accurately. Zone 28 is too large to draw a reliable picture of it. For example, we should have an aerial inventory for each of the ten ZECs in the territory for better knowledge. There are some sectors where there is a hunter at 300 meters. Hunting pressure is not the same everywhere.

“Despite the high density, the low productivity of females observed in 2022 is worrying, especially in a context where the hunting effort is increasing. The low productivity will be taken into account when reviewing hunting methods to avoid overfishing and exploitation of the population. The progress of the female part to the detriment of the male part must be gradual to avoid a greater imbalance between the sexes,” it said in the aerial inventory report.

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To monitor, detect, or mitigate this gender imbalance, we need accurate data every year.

The report determined that “hunting zone 28 has an area of ​​65,636 km2. The habitat of the moose is defined as the wooded part of the territory, excluding water bodies and agricultural, urbanized, and unproductive environments. It represents the total of the 57,876 km2 of habitat, or 88% of the hunting area. The sampling plan is based on the moose habitat and covers a total of 53,640 km2, or 894 plots of 60 km2, suitable for random selection Note that the moose densities presented in the document are expressed based on the area of ​​the moose habitat in the hunting zone, excluding the wildlife reserve and the three national parks, i.e. 53,273 km2. » This is too large to obtain a reliable photo.

20 budget stocks of the Los Angeles Kings

In terms of costs, “planning, implementation, data processing, and report writing required the investment of 191 man-days and an operating budget of $382,105, excluding the base salary of the department’s employees but including the costs associated with their overtime. In total, the construction cost per lot came to $5,970.

With the budget for the Los Angeles Kings hockey games at the Videotron Center in Quebec, we could afford about twenty aerial moose inventories. The aerial inventory of Area 28 was conducted from January 15 to February 7, 2023. In total, 64 of the 80 designs were flown, totaling 174 flight hours for both phases and transits spread over 16 flight days.

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“The sampling plan does not allow statistical comparisons to be made within zone 28 to find spatial differences between some sectors. In light of the observations made, the sector located south of the Saguenay River and Lake Saint-Jean has 30% fewer males than in the northern part of the territory. This result can be explained by the greater hunting pressure that has been maintained for several years in the southern part of the territory and by the principle of alternation that allows the killing of men every year, which is not the case for women,” the authors show. in the report, showing again that zone 28 is too large for an accurate picture.

A population to follow closely

In conclusion, the authors of the inventory show that “however, changes will be necessary in the coming years if the gender imbalance continues. Currently, the large area of ​​​​the territory covered by the hunting zone 28 limits the possible actions on a fine scale. It may be relevant to analyze the possibility of dividing the hunting zone to facilitate the modulation of the modalities of the next moose management plan.

It is now up to the MELCCFP specialists to divide zone 28 into more important parts and provide the necessary budgets for each ZEC to create its own moose inventory for management and monitoring worthy of the name.