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Whether through ignorance, arrogance, politics, stupidity or a combination of one or more of the above, our provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is hammering hard on the final few nails in the coffin of our beloved and once-world-renowned moose population.

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The recently released 2020 Hunting and Trapping Guide is showing, once again, our provincial government’s lack of real concern for our moose population, with the announcement of 28,830 licences issued for the coming season. A drop of less than 800 from last year simply isn’t going to cut it. Hunters and other conservationists were actually hoping for a slash of at least 5,000 licences – as a start – but it appears that some hunting groups and individuals may have had the audacity to try to “tell” Minister Gerry Byrne what he should do for the good of the moose population. The nerve of them!
From 2010 to 2019, our various provincial governments have issued approximately 313,000 permits to kill moose. Three-hundred-and-thirteen-thousand! And now another 29,000 on top of that, at a time when they’ve repeatedly been told from those of us who spend a significant amount of time in the great outdoors that moose numbers are down considerably.
Government’s estimate of the moose population last spring was 110,000, with a prediction of approximately 134,000 animals by opening day of September, 2019.
Those figures are off by a country mile.
How about 75,000?
And if they know a place where all those calves are hanging out, we’d like to hear about it, because we’re certainly not seeing many in our travels.
The gradual destruction of Newfoundland’s moose population has been ongoing for quite a few years, with both PC and Liberal governments contributing to what many consider “a potential disaster.”
The general consensus on governments’ reasons for doing this, of course, are, (a) to protect our forests from those over-browsing monsters, and (b) protect drivers on our highways and byways from moose-vehicle collisions.
Well, they’ve gone way too far with it. Thirty-thousand-plus hunting licences per year for a population of 75,000 animals? One doesn’t need to be a biologist to come to the conclusion that this is far more than the population can sustain.
Don’t be surprised in the not-too-distant future if the government of the day announces a costly study to determine what went wrong and why the animals disappeared. When the study is completed, predictably they’ll announce things like habitat loss, predation, disease or a combination were to blame, when the actual cause was primarily “mismanagement” on the part of politicians. And I do stress that it’s the bureaucrats, not staff in the field, who are to blame. Politicians aren’t even listening to advice and recommendations from staff.
If there’s no minister or brown-nosed informant with an ear to the door, enforcement officers and scientists will freely tell you there aren’t nearly as many moose in Newfoundland as there was 12-15 years ago. “Not even close,” they say.

What’s more, a constantly growing number of us are beginning to believe that government is making unsuspecting hunters part of its plan to cull the moose population. I guess it took us a while to figure this out because for the life of us, as bad as they are, we couldn’t see our elected officials trying to put an end to such a valued resource, tradition and way of life.
They’ll argue, of course, and say such a claim is nonsense, but it’s tough to look past the evidence they shove in your face.
Surely Gerry Byrne wasn’t put in this difficult portfolio to destroy our fish and game. Or was he viewed as “the one” who could make such tough decisions, despite mounting evidence against some of the moves he’s made? He does seem that “cocky,” after all. Many of us are of the opinion he’s carrying a huge chip on his shoulder since he left the big leagues of federal politics to be a leader on the farm team back home.
It appears as well that he has staff frightened to death to say anything publicly which doesn’t collaborate with his opinion, as wrong as it may (and likely will) be. The man cannot handle being challenged on anything, and as a result, the hired professionals under him (I pity you people) are afraid to publicly say what needs to be said, which is resulting in the gradual decline/degrading of many of our wildlife and fish species.
Folks, I am not making this up: Besides our own experiences, hunters are telling us, conservation officers are telling us, snowmobile and ATV riders are telling us, cabin owners are telling us – they aren’t seeing anywhere close to the number of moose in their travels as they did a decade or so ago! Even long-time butchers have messaged to inform us of significant drops in the number of quarters coming in to their shops in recent years. Here’s a comment from outdoorsman Mark Carter that I found particularly interesting: ”My cabin is located in Area 37 (Grey River East). No roads, no ATV trails. The only way is by boat. It used to be a moose paradise. Not no more. Trail cameras go months without seeing a moose, which was unheard of a few years ago.”
What more do our elected officials want before they listen?
For those hunters and their family members who have been complaining to one another and on social media, if you have yet to confront, call or at least write/message your MHA, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself if, five or six years down the road, our moose hunting season is put on hold indefinitely or there’s a drastically reduced hunt, as it is today with caribou. Even through the Sportsman, I can only do so much, and I’ve already devoted a helluva lot of time, effort and space to this cause. We need everybody onboard. We elect these people for a reason.
Savour those few moose roasts you have left in the freezer, folks. Not much left where they came from.

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