Mi'kmaq moose cull resumes in Nova Scotia
A moose rests in the shade of an evergreen tree in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang/Andy Carpenean)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 2, 2015 3:04PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 2, 2015 8:30PM EST
CAPE BRETON, N.S. -- A Parks Canada plan to reduce the moose population on Cape Breton Highlands National Park through a cull for Mi'kmaq hunters resumed Wednesday.
The agency launched the hunt in November, but it was temporarily called off when about 30 protesters entered a restricted zone and confronted the hunters.
The cull is part of a four-year study of the impact of a small-scale moose hunt on the vegetation in a 20-square-kilometre area near North Mountain.
Parks Canada says the 960-square-kilometre park has too many moose, which are eating so many young trees that the park's boreal forests are being transformed into grasslands that don't support certain species.
"This harvest will help restore the health of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, so that we don't lose the diversity of the forest ecosystem," the agency said in a news release.
The population density for moose in the park is 1.9 per square kilometres, which is roughly four times the level found in other areas where moose live.
The RCMP says it worked collaboratively with Parks Canada to develop a security plan this time to ensure the safety of everyone involved, but would not say whether security is tighter now than during the mid-November cull.
Parks Canada has restricted public access on North Mountain during the harvest except to allow through traffic along the Cabot Trail.
"Public safety for all involved will continue to remain Parks Canada's top priority," the agency said.
The plan for the cull is to reduce the moose population by 90 per cent in the 20-square-kilometre area, and it's expected the hunters would kill a maximum of about 40 moose.
The Nova Scotia Federation of Hunters and Anglers agrees there are too many moose in the park, but argue staff should scrap the idea of a cull and instead organize a seasonal, managed hunt that would include offering a limited number of licenses to hunters across the province.
Gros Morne National Park in western Newfoundland organizes a hunt in a similar fashion.
"We don't understand why Parks Canada in Nova Scotia is trying to reinvent a national park hunt," said Ian Avery, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Hunters and Anglers. "It just doesn't make sense when they've got a model...that works."
Avery said his federation is working out the details with Parks Canada to hopefully become a third-party monitor of the program.
The moose cull is scheduled to run through Dec. 18.