Saskatchewan may increase moose harvest following deadly car accidents
Following the death of a Saskatchewan Mountie, killed last week after his police vehicle collided with a moose, the province may again raise its hunting limits.
RCMP Constable Derek Pineo, was killed while on a late-night call after his police cruiser collided with a moose on Highway 14 near Wilkie, Saskatchewan, about 160 kilometres west of Saskatoon.
As demonstrated by the longstanding problem of moose-vehicle collisions on the island of Newfoundland, striking one of the giant ungulates is more likely to cause serous injury than other wildlife collisions. A full-grown bull can weigh over 700 kilograms, with the animal’s heavy weight carried on relatively spindly legs. When a passenger vehicle hits a moose at highway speeds, the front grill often strikes the legs, breaking them, and the bulk of the massive body crashes through the windscreen onto the driver and front-seat passenger.
There are approximately 50,000 moose in the Saskatchewan’s boreal forest and heavily wooded north country. A decade ago it was rare to see a moose in the south; wildlife managers estimate there were probably fewer than 200. But in recent years an estimated 5,000 to 7,500 moose have migrated south of Prince Albert, where the vast, sparsely populated forest gives way to fields and a network or highways and grid roads.
Saskatchewan Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff says the animals are being drawn south as farms expand in size and the threat of human interaction shrinks. There is also ample water and food, and a lack of predators.
“It is quite a serious concern,” Cheveldayoff told the Canadian Press. “With the increase in moose population come the increase in chances of collision.”
Officials are now trying to come up with ways to control the numbers. A total of 2,650 moose hunting tags were drawn in the south this year, up 455 from 2011.
In June, the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation launched the first phase of a public safety campaign appealing to motorists to be more alert while driving through areas inhabited by deer and moose. As the campaign rolls out, it will include highway billboards, rural roadside signs, radio and television PSAs.
However, Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the SWF, recently warned that there is no simple solution to the southern moose issue. The moose populations posing the most problems are on rural properties in the areas surrounding larger cities such as Regina, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. Not only are these difficult places to hunt, sportsmen often face opposition from landowners, who see moose as welcome additions to the local countryside.
“There’s a lot more to the issue than “should we go kill all the moose in southern Saskatchewan?’” Crabbe told the Canadian Press. “It’s a difficult problem.”