MNR completes moose survey in three local WMUs

Staff

The Ministry of Natural Resources had another successful year for its moose aerial inventory program (MAI) in the Fort Frances District.
The surveys, completed in Wildlife Management Units 9A, 9B, and 12B, were three of seven MAIs planned for the Northwest Region this year.
Other surveys also were completed in WMUs 3, 11B, 15B, and 21A.
Done by helicopter, the surveys are completed every three-five years as a way to estimate the moose population in each WMU as well as monitor the moose population in Ontario.
Surveys this year started in early January and were completed by early February.
According to the MNR, “each survey reported excellent survey conditions, and the desired levels of confidence [survey precision<20 percent] were met or exceeded.” For assessing the population structure, the MNR identified such things as age and sex of the observed moose and found the following: •calf composition ranged from 12-15 percent and is improving, but remains much lower than levels observed in 2002/03; •bull composition also is lower than desired in all three surveys and remains a concern for long-term recruitment; •the numbers of cows per bull ranged from 2.3-2.8, and is higher than the desired level of 1.5; and •antler loss in bulls ranged from 36 percent (9A) to 72 percent (9B) over the survey periods. In WMU 9A, 251 moose were observed on 34 plots (25 sq. km in size), so the MNR has estimated a population of 1,150 and a density of 0.33 moose/sq. km. This is a 28 percent decrease from the population of 1,590 estimated in 2005, as well as a continued decline from the population peak of 2,450 moose in 2002. At 12 percent, calf composition remained stable. Five elk also were observed, along with fewer deer (50) and no wolves. In WMU 9B, 189 moose were observed on 29 plots, so the MNR has estimated a population of 685 and a density of 0.24 moose/sq. km. This is a 10 percent decrease from the population of 760 estimated in 2005, and a continued decline from the population peak of 1,130 moose in 2002. At 15 percent, the calf composition actually improved from a low of 10 percent in 2005. The number of deer observed (183) continues to increase. While no wolves were seen within WMU 9B, two packs of four and eight animals were observed on Rainy Lake. And in WMU 12B, 334 moose were observed on 30 plots, so the MNR has estimated a population of 2,450 and a density of 0.44 moose/sq. km. With a 14 percent increase from the population of 2,150 moose estimated in 2003, this number marks the highest population observed since 1992. At 15 percent, calf composition improved from a low level of 13 percent observed in both 2003 and 2006. Fewer deer (12) were observed this year, and similar low numbers of wolves (two) were spotted.