Quebec Cree, Algonquin say moose populations need more protection

Some Indigenous hunting groups in Quebec say more needs to be done to protect moose populations in the province. 

Cree hunters are being asked to avoid killing female moose between February and the end of the calving season in late May or early June, in an effort to allow the population to recover.  

The Cree Trappers Association is also working on a moose management plan and hopes it will protect the population from more drastic declines, such as what is happening with caribou in Quebec, where some populations are down more than 99 per cent. 

"I think it's most appropriate to put something in place," said Cree Trappers Association president Fred Tomatuk. "Look what happened to our caribou ...15 or 10 years ago caribou were thick like mosquitoes."

The moose pop[ulation] is going down fairly quickly.   - Verna Polson,  Algonquin Anishinabeg Grand Chief

The Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council is asking the provincial government to put in place a moratorium on the 2020 moose hunt in the réserve faunique La Vérendrye, south of Val-d'Or, saying hunters are seeing steep declines in the population. 

Last week, the council issued a press release saying it was disappointed the ministry was refusing to act so far.

"The moose population is going down fairly quickly," said Algonquin Anishinabeg Grand Chief Verna Polson. "We've been talking about this for several years now."

The Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster

Polson said her nation is co-operating with officials at the province's Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs to carry out a moose population count in the reserve this winter. The nation is continuing to pressure the government for a moratorium. 

CBC

The Cree Trappers Association is hoping to present its draft moose management plan to members at its annual general assembly this summer. It will include a better population count and draw on traditional Cree and non-Indigenous conservation practices, and could include restrictions on Indigenous hunters, according to association president Tomatuk.

He also said hunters need to stop over-harvesting, particularly female moose during the spring calving season.

"In Waswanipi last year, nine moose were killed," said Tomatuk, adding all were female and pregnant. That one harvest took a total of 27 moose out of the area, he said.

"To make a management plan successful. We're going to have to really start concentrating on not shooting females."

A request for an interview with the province's Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs was not returned in time for publication.