DOES FIRST NATION’S HUNTING IMPACT MOOSE PRODUCTIVITY IN ALBERTA?
Wildlife biologists and members of the hunting public in Alberta voiced concerns that unregulated hunting by First Nations’ hunters was detrimental to some moose populations. Moose population dynamics were examined in 3 study areas where First Nations hunting occurred. Provincially licensed sport hunters were only allowed to harvest antlered moose in all 3 areas, but numbers of permits were unlimited. Moose populations in some management areas were characterized by strongly biased sex ratios in favor of females, high mean age of the female cohort, and reduced reproductive performance. In Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 358, where hunting by First Nations’ hunters was considered “heavy”, the sex ratio was not strongly biased, moose numbers were sustained at a higher level, and both pregnancy and twinning rates were higher than in the other areas. Contrary to the fears of wildlife managers and sport hunters, moose hunting by First Nations’ hunters in WMU 358 did not appear to be detrimental, but may have actually enhanced moose productivity. The moose harvest there probably resembled a selective harvest system where females as well as males were included. Wildlife managers in Alberta may wish to consider the benefits of selective harvest for other areas that are currently managed under a non-selective male-only harvest strategy.
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