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