2012 hunting forecast: Manitoba
Deer: Whitetail populations across the province are lower than desired, managers say. This is largely due to the severe winter of 2010–11. Deep snow, cold weather and winter conditions lasted well into the spring. “In winters like that, we can expect 40 per cent winter mortality,” says big-game manager Ken Rebizant. “So, our populations are recovering from the effects of that winter.” As a result, for most of Manitoba, hunters will only be able to purchase one deer licence (a general licence that can be used in the archery, muzzleloader, shotgun-muzzleloader and general rifle seasons) and harvest one deer. Additionally, all deer seasons have been shortened by one week.
Moose: Populations are doing the best in remote areas of the province—in the north and east of Lake Winnipeg. Where there is easy access for hunters, populations are lower than target levels.
Bears: Black bear populations are healthy across the province, and hunter success is generally high. The highest densities are in the areas around Riding, Duck and Porcupine Mountains, Sandilands, the southeast side of Lake Winnipeg and central Interlake.
Upland birds: Southwestern Manitoba normally supports the strongest populations of Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse. Eastern and west-central Manitoba typically have the healthiest populations of ruffed grouse. Turkey hunters continue to have relatively high success rates (45 per cent) in the spring season, and the harvest is becoming more evenly distributed among game hunting areas. A new woodcock season has been established in game bird harvest zones 3 and 4—the first new hunting opportunity in Manitoba since the wild turkey season opened in 1977.
Waterfowl: The Interlake region is a renowned staging area for Canada geese returning from their molt in the north, and for Eastern Prairie Population (EPP) Canada geese returning from their breeding grounds along the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Farther west, the pothole region of Manitoba is well known as both a production and staging area for a variety of dabbling and diving ducks. Favourable spring conditions and recent spring rains should result in good crop production and abundant habitat throughout the province, meaning there is good potential for the buildup of staging waterfowl. Giant Canada geese continue to increase in Manitoba and the northern states of the Mississippi Flyway, and an early nesting year will result in yet another banner year of production. The slightly early to average timing of the spring melt in the north should herald good production by EPP geese, cackling geese and lesser snow geese.