News not good for hunters
Moose population on the decline around Fort Providence

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 10/99) - The number of moose appears to be dropping steadily north of Fort Providence, but the reason why remains a mystery.

A study conducted by the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and the Fort Providence Integrated Resource Management Committee in the area north of Mills Lake shows the number estimated by ariel fly-pasts in 1991 at 637 moose. That number fell sharply to 255 in 1994 and to just 116 in 1997. Add to that discontent voiced by local hunters who have had a difficult time finding the animal and there could be reason for some apprehension.

"Actually, I would have thought there'd be more concern about it by now -- we're looking at 10 years that the numbers have dropped. I know the local hunters are concerned about it," said Darren Campbell, integrated resource management planner for the Fort Providence Resource Management Committee.

Deh Gah Gotie Chief, Greg Nyuli, said he had been watching the study closely. He recommends that the study area should be expanded.

"It would broaden our data and give us a little bit better idea of how we can better manage it," he said. "There's lots we don't know -- I guess it's something we'll have to address with our members."

As to why the moose population would be in decline, Campbell can only hazard a guess. He said he hasn't heard of any tick or other parasite that has been decimating their population. He speculated that the predatory wolf or black bear could be killing more calves than usual, but said for all that's really known at this point, global warming could be the cause.

This month will offer yet another tell-tale sign, Campbell said, when hunters return from their seasonal hunt. If there's been few kills, then the situation will have to be analyzed more closely, he suggested.

"I think it makes people nervous when a resource they use traditionally is disappearing, or at least it's not as strong as it used to be," he said.