AN EVALUATION OF MOOSE HARVEST MANAGEMENT IN CENTRAL AND NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA
Moose (Alces alces) harvest strategies employed within 19 Game Management Zones (GMS’s) of central and northern British Columbia during the mid-1990’s were reviewed and evaluated. Passive harvest controls, including long bull-only seasons, were primarily used in northern GMZ’s where moose densities and hunting pressure was low, and predator populations were lightly exploited. A mix of passive and active harvest controls for bulls, cows, and calves were used in most of the remaining GMZ’s where moose densities and hunting pressure were higher. The effectiveness of the various harvest controls were evaluated from 5 performance indicators. Overall, the harvest strategy that sustained the greatest hunting pressure, harvest density, and harvest rates, while maintaining desired hunting effort and post-season bull/cow ratios, was the strategy employed within the Omineca Sub-Region. This strategy provided a general open season to harvest spike-fork or “immature” bulls and calves, combined with a limited entry hunting season for mature bulls and cows. Several preliminary yield-density curves were proposed. Where predator populations were reduced through hunting and trapping, moose harvests ranged from 22 kill/1,000 km2 at a post-season density of 300 moose/1,000 km2 to 53 kills/1,000 km2 at 700 moose/1,000 km2. Moose harvest management was hindered by insufficient survey data, lack of reliable harvests. In British Columbia, moose management objectives should focus on maintaining appropriate adult sex ratios, providing a diversity of hunting opportunities, and optimizing recreational days per moose harvested, as opposed to traditional objectives associated with population size, harvest, hunter numbers, and hunter days which have either not been achievable or measurable.
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