The Free Press article Black market in moose thrives dealing with the joint efforts of local communities and stakeholders in eastern Manitoba and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship to assist in the recovery of the moose population in Game Hunting Area 26 unfortunately missed the mark.
The April 22 article focused heavily on the hunting of moose by a small number of First Nations people for the illegal black market for moose meat. This overshadowed the more important message of how the co-operation of many with diverse viewpoints, including First Nations, through the Manitoba Model Forest Committee for Co-operative Moose Management could assist with the recovery of such an important wildlife species in Manitoba.
The article also contained many inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims with respect to the black market for moose meat.
The black market for moose meat is not alive and well in eastern Manitoba. Information from Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship indicates the illegal sale of moose meat is not prevalent and was certainly not a contributing factor to the 65 per cent decline in the moose population observed between 2000 and 2010 in GHA 26. Any assumed link between the two is little more than the unsubstantiated opinion of a few individuals.
The article, however, was right on the mark in describing all of the efforts of the CCMM to reverse the downward trend in the moose population.
Aerial surveys flown this winter in GHA 26 by conservation documented an almost 60 per cent increase in the moose population since the last survey in 2010.
The actions taken to recover the moose population included the closure and decommissioning of former forestry roads, working with trappers to reduce the wolf population (and at the same time, to utilize wolf tissue samples given by the trappers to the University of Manitoba to understand wolf diet and parasite loads).
Attempts were made to limit the northern expansion of white-tailed deer, which carry a parasite that is fatal to moose and caribou.
These positive steps and more were initiated by the CCMM, in co-operation with Manitoba Conservation.
The positive results for the moose population in GHA 26 is a testament to how people, with sometimes divergent views, can work together for the benefit for all.
The CCMM was formed in 1995 as a mechanism to facilitate dialogue and a common vision for the management of moose in eastern Manitoba. It has not always been an easy road to travel. After nearly 20 years, members might not always agree on specific actions. One thing is certain, however -- there is great respect for the beliefs and opinions of the various committee members.
Respect is what makes the committee work and creates positive results for wildlife.
Ken MacMaster is the senior policy adviser for the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. Brian Kotak is general manager of Manitoba Model Forest Inc.