POTENTIAL MISUSE OF BLACK BEAR LICENCES TO HARVEST MOOSE IN NEWFOUNDLAND: A REVIEW
Wildlife management policy is often strongly influenced by public perception. In Newfoundland, the inappropriate use of black bear licence to harvest moose has been rumoured since the introduction of the current management systems for both species in 1973, pressuring managers to alter harvest programs. The opportunity for misuse potentially exists for 4 groups of moose hunters: those successful in procuring both a moose licence and a bear licence for different management units (MU’s), enabling hunters to harvest moose in a more preferred area than that for which they are licenced; Those unsuccessful in procuring a moose licence who purchase a bear licence to hunt moose anyway; those with a bear licence but no connection to the moose/caribou licencing system; and those convicted of big game hunting violations who purchase a bear licence to hunt moose illegally. This paper attempts to assess objectively the amount of abuse that could be occurring and evaluates reasonable management responses to these problems.
A dramatic increase in bear licence sales following the introduction of a more restrictive moose management system in 1973, as well as a drop in bear licence sales after the establishment of non-overlapping moose and bear hunting seasons in 3 MU’s implied misuse. From 1989 to 1994, 223,705 moose hunters were allotted licences, 5,918 (2.6%) purchased a black bear licence and 3,517 (1.6%) selected for a bear MU different than their moose MU. Similarly, of the 141,943 hunters who applied but did not receive a moose licence, 7,280 (5.1%) purchased a black bear licence. The licence sales do however mean that most bear licence holders were associated with the moose hunt application process; of 18,348 black bear hunters, 32.3% (5,918) also held a moose licence, and 39.7% (7,280) were unsuccessful in procuring a moose licence. Eighteen percent of bear hunters did not participate in the moose hunt process at all. Individuals convicted of big game offences were permitted to purchase bear licences, and while they were considered at high risk for further illegal activity only 5.2% (25/482) purchased a bear licence.
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