What will save the continental moose?

Nova Scotia has released a long-awaited recovery plan for the province’s inland moose, but conservationists worry the document lacks the teeth needed to restore vulnerable species.

Although inland moose were once abundant in Nova Scotia, the number of species has declined due to forestry, poaching, and disease. Its current population is 700, depending on the province, but other sources say there could be fewer than 100. A robust plan to increase the population and restore and preserve habitat has long been called for.

Now, there is the Recovery Plan 2021. Prepared for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural and Renewable Resources, it includes for the first time a population target of 20 years, which aims to increase the population of the species to 5,000 elk, including 500 breeding animals. The plan also maps the core habitat, which is the land needed to support moose recovery, and makes recommendations for research around population counts to gain a better understanding of the status of the species.

The continent’s moose concentration areas as established by the 2021 Recovery Plan. Image of report prepared for Nova Scotia Department of Natural and Renewable Resources

Although the animal once thrived throughout the province, it is now found primarily in parts of Nova Scotia. Increased logging roads and other human obstructions have made it difficult for moose to move freely through the province, and the report says providing corridors for movement between central habitats is imperative.

Retired provincial biologist Bob Bancroft said that while the plan is “good,” poor forestry practices in Nova Scotia stand firmly in the way of the recovery plan’s goals. The implementation of ecological forestry is essential to increase moose numbers on the continent, Bancroft said.

“This is not a bad reflection of the group of people who came up with a plan, but what is happening now is that it has not been enacted. It’s on a shelf, ”he said.

Bancroft, who is also president of Nature Nova Scotia, has been watching and defending moose for decades. He surveyed elk habitat as a provincial biologist and helped develop the first plan to restore the population as part of the elk recovery team on the mainland in 2007. However, he said a lack of government resources made it difficult to get the necessary work done. , like a more in-depth population survey, and that the same thing is happening today.

The new recovery plan comes about a month after William Lahey assessed the province’s progress in the Lahey Report 2018, which was supposed to serve as a sustainability roadmap for Nova Scotia’s forestry industry. Lahey found that there had been no real change to the terrain, that logging is taking place at an alarming rate in the province, and that the original report’s suggestions on how to protect wildlife have not been changed.

In Lahey’s initial report, he calls for existing Crown land to be divided into a triad forest model, which divides forests into three sections: production forest, protection forest, and “the ecological matrix.” This approach would allow some forests to be fully protected from logging and others to be felled at different rates depending on age and other factors. The “matrix” category would have forests with mixed protection and logging.

Nova Scotia has released a long-awaited recovery plan for the province’s inland moose, but conservationists worry the document lacks the teeth needed to restore vulnerable species. #Conservation #Wildlife #Endangered

Following the update, eight environmental and community organizations in the province, including Nature Nova Scotia, called for logging on Crown lands to be halted until Lahey’s recommendations are implemented. Bancroft said the ecological forestry model outlined in the Lahey report is essential in helping the continent’s moose recover.

“Most need a mature forest, which is very rare now. And they need patches of younger forest. And what they are creating is the exact opposite. It’s a sea of ​​clearings, ”Bancroft said.

The Department of Natural and Renewable Resources said a survey will be conducted this winter to begin counting the moose population and that the new recovery plan will help restore the continental moose.

“Moose are an important part of the natural and cultural identity of our province. We now have an evidence-based recovery plan, which sets priorities and timelines for future actions to help save this important species, ”said Renewable and Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton.

“I thank the recovery planning team for their work and I am committed to working with our partners to implement the plan, with some actions already underway.”

Nature Nova Scotia is glad the province has the plan on the table, and Bancroft said the next step is to hold the government accountable for implementing it. They are working on lawn signs and a campaign; he points to recent success surrounding the cancellation of a proposal that would have seen Owl’s Head Provincial Park sold to developers and turned into golf courses and luxury homes. Huge public opposition prompted the developers to withdraw their application, but the groups are still waiting for the province to officially protect the land.

The inaction after the Lahey report serves as a warning to Bancroft and others.

“You know, you try to use the system and work within a system, but it doesn’t work,” he said.

“… I’m as stubborn as I am powerful, I guess.”


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