Local hunter defends controversial moose hunt
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Outdoorsman says the nuisance moose is blowing up and damaging the ecosystem.
Stephanie Hu · CBC News · Posted: Sep 18, 2020 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: September 18
The bull moose was killed after it destroyed a local farm field. A Yukon-wide cull began on Sept. 15 and will last until Dec. 31, 2020, allowing hunters to kill 3 moose a day. (Billy Burwadjer/Associated Press)
The controversy surrounding a government-sanctioned cull of the bull moose has pitted neighbours against each other on Talus Lake, 100 kilometres southwest of Dawson City.
On Sept. 15, Yukon allowed a hunt of the largest mammal in the territory, after the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry concluded the moose were harming people and damaging natural habitat with their antlers.
The new rules allow hunters with an outdoors card and big-game licence to shoot up to 3 moose a day until Dec. 31, 2020. The ministry estimates there are 73,000 breeding moose in the Yukon.
People who oppose the hunt describe it as an unnecessary "slaughter," with some wildlife experts saying it's not backed up by scientific evidence.
Some people living near Talus Lake, however, say the moose have been detrimental to the wildlife.
Brian Pricker is a hunter in Dawson City, Yukon not far from the herds of rampaging moose that live near the Tombstone Mountain. He spoke to Yukon Morning with host Elyen Jones, on CBC Radio this week. Brian Pricker said "It was a good day. We got out there, but we were totally shocked and surprised to see a protester halfway up the tree on the main little island obstructing hunting and scaring all the moose away. I was totally shocked to see him trying to disallow hunters their legal right to get out and hunt. But we did manage to get two moose."
Elyen Jones asked "Why do you choose to hunt moose?" and then Brian responded
"That's how I was brought up. Dad took me out hunting. We spent time outdoors and camping. Hunting was a natural part of my life here in the Yukon. I took all the courses and have my firearms safety certificate. And I love being out. It's a sport. It's a recognized legal sport. It always has been and always should be in this country.
Then the host continued "Can you understand why some residents don't agree with the hunt?"
Pricker said "Absolutely, but part of that is they're against hunting and guns. They just want to leave the moose alone to let their population self-regulate. But that's just not going to happen."
Man has been interfering. By putting regulations on hunting the moose more than 40 years ago, moose were made a protected species. The moose have just propagated to the point where they're just overrunning Talus Lake. Now, the herds have to find new habitats. So, they're running south and starting to come into DawsonCity and the Klondike Valley.
Ms. Jones says "Some say science shows that moose do not harm wildlife populations and that moose only clear trees to find food. What do you say to that?"
It's important for people to do their own homework. You have a very emotional set of people on the environmental side that will use selective science to push their argument.
I've been doing the readings on this to self-educate since 2015. There are definitely effects on other wildlife. When you have a pair of moose, they can produce three babies a year. They don't have natural predators. When they get to the juvenile adult stage, they eat about 50 pounds of vegetation per moose per day.
Compound that season by season, and you start to see the huge numbers and the detrimental effect on the fishing population.
Dozens of wildlife experts sent an open letter to the province asking for localized management of moose populations, instead of a hunt. How much room is there to reconcile both approaches?
The major impetus has to be from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Through the years, they've had controlled culls involving a combination of hunting and birth control.
We're only part of the solution. And it's a small part. We're not going to impact the overall population from its explosive growth, since they've been protected for more than 40 years.
All ethical hunters want to be conservationists. We hunt and eat what we can, or we release the moose. But moose are a huge nuisance species and they need to be controlled. But if somebody has a great recipe for them, I'd love to have it.
With files from CBC Radio's Yukon Morning
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