COMPLEXITY AND INFORMATION GAPS IN RECOVERY PLANNING FOR MOOSE (ALCES ALCES AMERICANA) IN NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA
In 2003, the Eastern moose (Alces alces americana) on mainland Nova Scotia was declared an endangered species under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. Subsequently, as required by the Act, a recovery team was established and the recovery planning process was initiated. Very early in this process, it was recognized that developing a recovery strategy for this moose population was going to be difficult due to the complexity of issues involved. The basic demographic data on population structure, reproduction, and mortality are not current for the population, and the assessment methodologies are inconsistent. The ability to evaluate potential factors limiting the population is hindered by a lack of information, primarily in the subject areas of genetic structure, health, illegal harvest, and habitat suitability and fragmentation. There are great difficulties in establishing cause-effect relationships, as well as verifying the potential cumulative and synergistic effects of the factors impacting the moose population. Answering these questions is challenging and will require substantial social, political, and financial support as well as a properly designed research program to acquire the requisite data. Until the information gaps can be addressed, it is prudent to adopt a precautionary and adaptive approach to the recovery of this species.
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