----- La Verendrye moose in decline
The moose population inventory in La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve in the winter of 2020 confirms the moose population is in serious decline in this once game-abundant territory.
In 2019, the Algonquin Anishinabeg First Nation requested a moratorium on sport moose hunting in La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve due to observations made by community members. The data used by the Ministère (MFFP) for the number of moose hunting licenses is 26 years old; the MFFP agreed to conduct this inventory with the Algonquin Nation (but) without closing the moose hunt.
Algonquin technical reps joined teams aboard helicopters that flew over half of the area of the reserve to estimate population numbers. The total moose population was estimated at 2074, with 61% females, 26% adult males, and 13% calves. “The moose population inventoried in 2020 shows a lower density than the results found in 2008” said the MFFP without specifying trends between 2008 and 1994 studies.
The MFFP (blames) members of the Algonquin communities for the decline. According to their calculation, subsistence hunting represents 267 moose, a figure that the Algonquin Chiefs strongly contest. The Algonquins say the MFFP is not considering the impact of forestry operations on moose habitat. There are sectors that have log cutting 24 hours per day” said Chief Casey Ratt; winter calf-deaths are also not considered. He wants the see an overall picture of moose health used, not only numbers.
Chief Adrienne Jerome, Lac Simon, said the MFFP is in a conflict of interest with its role in logging.
The Algonquin Chiefs agreed that this study is one step. “We want to know why the female moose reproduction is low and what are the real impacts of forestry and pollution on reproduction rates” said the Chiefs, who continue calling for a moratorium or for a greater reduction in permits. “We want to be part of an overall moose management plan for our territory, added Grand Chief Verna Polson.
Georges Lafontaine, AAFN
John Boudrias, Moose project coordinator