CONSIDERATIONS FOR NATURAL MINERAL LICKS USED BY MOOSE IN LAND USE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Despite an increasing body of knowledge about the predictable use and functional role of naturally occurring mineral licks in the ecology of ungulates such as moose (Alces alces), no documents have been published that discuss the importance of implementing management guidelines aimed to protect these habitat features. We reviewed the literature on the biophysical attributes of mineral lick sites and their use by moose to illustrate the importance of licks and outline criteria that may serve to help in the development of guidelines to protect these land features. We canvassed the provinces and territories of Canada to ascertain whether any regulatory framework for identifying, classifying, and protecting mineral licks existed. Despite appeals for lick protection from several authors, few jurisdictions recognize mineral licks as a special habitat feature and none appear to base their guidelines for protecting licks on ecological principles. We also found no evidence for the existence of a set of standardized guidelines that can be used by planners and managers to ensure the protection of licks. We incorporated ecological and biophysical aspects of mineral licks into a field checklist to identify and classify mineral licks used by moose, and developed a preliminary draft of a management procedure to enable their protection.
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