2012 hunting forecast: New Brunswick
Deer: The southern third of the province is the most productive area to hunt deer. “Our largest populations are in the central part of that,” says big-game manager Kevin Craig. Wildlife management zones 21, 22, 23 and, to a lesser extent, 16 possess the bulk of the population. Meanwhile, zone 22 has the highest hunter success rate. This past winter was probably the mildest on record for more than 40 years, which will likely translate into better survival. “We should be seeing more deer,” says Craig. Right now, the pre-winter estimate is 80,000 animals. Last year, 4,755 deer were harvested, and this year, managers are expecting the harvest to be 5,200. “We kept antlerless permits low to be able to grow the population,” explains Craig.
Moose: Moose populations are healthy throughout New Brunswick. Zones in the extreme northern part of the province continue to show the strongest signs of growth. WMZ 3, in northwestern New Brunswick, had the highest hunter success rate at 84 per cent; the provincial average was 57 per cent. The population is estimated at 29,000 animals and has been increasing in recent years. There are 4,624 resident moose licences available, an increase of 260 over last year. Logging has resulted in a shift toward younger forests in recent years, which has benefited moose populations.
Bears: With the bear population currently sitting around 17,000, there are many good hunting opportunities in the province. WMZs 5, 8, 10 and 15 are the traditional hot spots. Hunter success rates can vary, but average between 50 and 60 per cent. However, the recent bumper crop of berries and nuts means the bears might not be baited as easily.
Upland birds: Good grouse hunting is available throughout the province, with young aspen stands in the north offering the best habitat. In southern New Brunswick, the best grouse hunting is in abandoned or marginal farmland. High harvests of grouse are expected this year. This past spring was early, warm and dry, offering excellent conditions for nest and chick survival. Recent reports indicate that grouse production was higher than normal this summer.
Waterfowl: Spring arrived early this year and landscapes were mostly free of snow and ice when spring breeding surveys were conducted in late April and early May. The Gulf of St. Lawrence was generally ice-free through the winter for the third consecutive year, which means more birds made it through the winter and will breed this year. The localized flooding that occurred along the Saint John River in 2011 was not an issue in 2012, so managers don’t expect any negative impacts on nest success in this area. According to the Canadian Wildlife Service, this year’s outlook for waterfowl production in the Atlantic region would be considered average.