2012 hunting forecast: Quebec
Deer: The population is stable, currently sitting at roughly 400,000 whitetails. The outlook for hunting is excellent this year, says wildlife manager Claude Daigle. Wildlife management unit 5 is the most productive unit in the western part of the province, while WMUs 6, 7 and 8 are the best in the south; WMU 20 is the best in the east. Whitetail populations in northern WMUs were stressed by harsh winters in 2008 and 2009. The 2010 and 2011 winters were mild to moderate, and populations are recovering. In total, hunters took 49,271 white-tailed deer last year.
Moose: There are roughly 125,000 moose in the province, and WMUs 1, 2 and 3 are the most productive. Last year’s overall success rate was 16 per cent. Managers say the outlook for hunting is excellent, with 27,964 moose harvested. Of those, 3,527 were calves, 10,895 were cows and 13,542 were bulls.
Caribou: Though the population is declining, there are still very good opportunities to hunt caribou in Quebec. WMUs 22 and 23W are the best to target, and the hunting outlook is reportedly excellent.
Bears: There are about 70,000 black bears in Quebec, and the population is stable. The best bets for hunting are units 10, 13, 18 and 26. Last year’s overall hunter success rate was 29 per cent, down marginally from 2010, with 4,197 bears taken. Of those, 845 came from unit 13.
Upland birds: Managers don’t track the numbers of upland birds from year to year, but the population appears stable, with no signs that 2012 should be any different. The outlook is good. Wild turkeys continue to gain ground in the province and the harvest is growing. Last year, hunters took a total of 1,496 birds, with the most harvested from unit 8. That’s up from 1,332 in 2010 and 1,024 in 2009.
Waterfowl: Quebec had record-high temperatures early this past spring, followed by cold temperatures. However, spring conditions varied greatly across the province. Compared with last year, water levels were very low for the St. Lawrence River and for almost all other watercourses and wetlands in the southern half of the province. At press time, managers were unable to say whether this will affect overall breeding success. In general, most breeding waterfowl populations are in good shape.