Many hunters are already in the forest to try to outwit the king of Quebec’s forests: the moose. Others will follow in the coming weeks. A question runs through the minds of many enthusiasts, which is what happened to this decline in population in some areas.
To find out more, I spoke with the biologist responsible for the moose file at the Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent De Vriendt.
“For sure there will always be moose and there will be a lot of them,” explained the specialist. If we look at the provincial level, the moose is doing well. It is not threatened anywhere. Yes, there are declines in some areas, but overall, we have a very large moose herd in Quebec. »
The question should be asked about the size of the herd.
“Before hunting, we can talk about 130,000 moose in Quebec. In 2020, we are talking about 130,000 to 140,000. It may have decreased a bit, but there were certainly more than 110,000. The population has doubled since the 1990s. Even if there is a decrease in some areas, we are still far. from back to where we were in the 1990s. ”
So, what could be the reason for the declines in some regions?
“There are many reasons (including) the presence of predators. If we compare the two banks of the river, in the north, there are wolves while in the south, there are not. There may also be other predators such as bears. There is also hunting pressure that also determines the moose densities we find locally. If we consider all these mixes, it is safe to say that they all influence the moose population level,” said De Vriendt.
“Climate change is a factor that we don’t know yet. There is also the winter tick that is more present because it (takes advantage of) conditions that are better for its survival, with warmer springs . These factors can have an influence, that’s for sure. Several study projects are underway to really understand the influence of these new factors,” added Laurent De Vriendt.
In the case of moose, authorities are trying to monitor the population as much as possible.
“We have a strong monitoring system, which does not act on a single indicator. It is based on various harvest parameters, including aerial inventories, which require costs of up to $200,000, depending in the area of the territorial inventory. We also use data such as the sale of permits, the number of marks, the reading of teeth for age, the presence of milk in women and the evolution of the quality of the habitat- that, for example,” continued the biologist.
“We are always looking to improve and we have ideas for reflection on the subject. So we have monitoring that develops, re-evaluated from time to time, which allows us to adjust our methods to manage according to our results,” he said.
An example of this is zone 27 where, because the population has decreased, it has been decided to allow only men to hunt. Regarding reproduction, it is not easy to determine how many females a male can conceive during the times they
“The earlier the woman is fertilized, the greater the possibility that the child will survive. Unfortunately, there are not many scientific studies that show the ratio of the number of men needed per 100 women, says Laurent De Vriendt.
“What has been found in the literature is that there is not much impact at the population level in this specific case. The ratio of 30% men in the adult population, or one man for every 2.3 women, would represent in good condition. The reduction of mature males will allow young ones to reproduce,” he added.
In addition, warmer temperatures do not influence the mating season.
“The reproductive instinct is very powerful in moose. They concentrate their movements on the islands in the cold and usually during the night. They don’t stop giving birth. »
The specialist considers us lucky, even if there are reductions in some areas, especially compared to what is happening in other jurisdictions. Each year, more than 170,000 moose hunting licenses are sold in Quebec.