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Factors Affecting Moose Population Declines in British Columbia: Updated Research Design G. Kuzyk
2019
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Abstract: In response to declining Moose numbers in central British Columbia, the B.C. government initiated a research project in 2013 to determine the factors affecting Moose population change (Kuzyk and Heard 2014). The original research design was developed collaboratively with the Provincial Moose Management Team and benefitted from input, both in writing and in person, from the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team. The British Columbia Wildlife Federation and British Columbia Guide Outfitters Association provided detailed comments on earlier versions of the original design. Throughout the project regional information sharing and engagement has occurred at various times and levels with First Nations and stakeholders. Currently, First Nations, other stakeholders and government support the B.C. Moose research project beyond the initial five years to continue providing B.C. specific information to guide Moose management actions. The purpose of this document is to provide our partners and the public with an update to the original research hypothesis (Kuzyk and Heard 2014). It acts as a framework to guide research direction for the provincial Moose research project for the next five years, through identification of seven new research topics. More detailed descriptions of research questions and methods will be developed by professors and graduate students from collaborating academic institutions. Five study areas were chosen in central B.C. in order to evaluate a landscape change hypothesis proposed by Kuzyk and Heard (2014). The primary research objective of that project was to evaluate the landscape change hypothesis, which stated that Moose declines were in part attributable to a Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) outbreak where habitat changes and increased salvage logging and road building resulted in greater vulnerability of Moose from hunters and predators. Preliminary results from February 2012 to April 2018 were presented in four annual reports: Kuzyk et al. (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018a). Causes and rates of mortality for 400 cow Moose were assessed. Although rates varied annually... Due to the high concern over continued Moose population declines, the importance of monitoring cow Moose survival indefinitely has been reinforced for three main reasons: 1) cow Moose are the reproductive component of the population and their survival and calf production are critical to understanding population trends; 2) cow Moose survival and calf recruitment can be used to assess population trends, which is becoming increasingly important with warm winters that do not provide conditions required for aerial population surveys; and 3) we need to understand long term variation in cow Moose survival in relation to other environmental covariates. An unexpected finding was that health related mortalities (including apparent starvation) were the proximate cause of 19% of cow Moose mortalities. This was second to predation mortalities (53%) and more prevalent than harvest mortalities (16%). Health/starvation mortality causes were not recognized as key mortality factors initially in this study. Therefore, we recommend that monitoring cow Moose survival in these five study areas be maintained indefinitely as a long-term research and monitoring project. We recommend this research design be updated every five years to refine our understanding of factors that affect Moose population change, thereby guiding research and informing management recommendations to enhance Moose populations.
 
G. Kuzyk, C. Procter, S. Marshall, D. Hodder. 2019. Factors Affecting Moose Population Declines in British Columbia: Updated Research Design. Province of B.C., Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Wildlife Bulletin. B-128
 
Topic: Conservation + Mgmt (Wildlife, Fish, Plant)
Keywords: "cow moose survival", "cow moose decline", "British Columbia Wildlife Federation", "British Columbia Guide Outfitter Association", "moose report"
ISSN:  Scientific Name: Alces alces
ISBN: 978-0-7726-7 English Name: Moose
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