SHIRAS MOOSE IN IDAHO: STATUS AND MANAGEMENT
Limited data indicate that Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi) occurred in low numbers in Idaho throughout the 19th century. Harvest was allowed in Idaho during 1893-1898, after which seasons were closed. Shiras moose were fully protected in Idaho from 1899-1945. Moose populations increased during the 20th century and harvest seasons resumed in 1946. Harvest has focused on mature males, allowing continued population growth through the end of the 20th century. Rapid population growth during 1980-2000 resulted in moose dispersing westward from the Rocky Mountains and southward from the Panhandle region of Idaho. The management goal for moose in Idaho is to provide opportunities for recreational hunting and harvest of mature male moose. Although some managers assess moose populations directly by aerial survey, most managers rely on indirect measurements (e.g., hunter success rate and antler spread of bulls harvested) to assess the impact of harvest on moose populations. Other population indicators (e.g., dispersal into previously unoccupied areas, damage to private property) have been used as indicators of social tolerance for expanding moose populations. Where moose have approached the limit of social tolerance, attempts to stabilize or reduce populations by harvest of females and translocation of ‘problem’ moose have been utilized. Both a historic perspective of moose abundance and a revised statewide population estimate are provided.
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