Lake Babine Nation moose study

Partnering with government to analyze reasons for population decline

Studies are being conducted by LBN and the province to find out why moose populations in the area have disintegrated. (File photo/Lakes District News)

Studies are being conducted by LBN and the province to find out why moose populations in the area have disintegrated. (File photo/Lakes District News)

Lake Babine Nation (LBN) is partnering with the provincial government to conduct a moose health monitoring program, in order to gain information on why the populations are depleting in the area.

Lakes District News spoke to Matthew Alec, an LBN technician whose working on the project, about the reasoning behind the study. “The moose is whittling down, and we’re trying to find out why our moose are leaving the area or not being able to be supported,” said Alec. “We also want to study moose habitat and how to replenish that.”

Alec believes that logging has a lot to do with the population decline. “Years ago you used to walk out and there would be 10 to 15 moose in one spot, and everywhere we used to hunt is all logged off now,” he said.

He also acknowledged however, that LBN isn’t blame-free either. “We as a nation need to cut down a lot on hunting the species especially right now. There are still too many lake bull hunts and things like that,” Alec told Lakes District News. “It’s something that we as a nation have been talking about for a long time, only hunting necessary bull moose because calves and cows are so important.”

According to Alec, LBN does not have any official regulation against killing cow and calf moose, though he claims that it’s understood among elderly hunters to refrain from doing so, and those practices are taught to the next generation of hunters as well.

The way the study works is that moose samples that are collected by LBN are brought to Smithers, and then sent to a lab in Victoria where studies are conducted. That info is then brought LBN and the province to study.

“The project is part of a collaborative moose health surveillance program coordinated through Environmental Stewardship Initiative that involves community hunters sampling harvested or opportunistically collected moose [road killed] for tissue samples for health analysis,” said Nigel McInnis from B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Communications.

“The B.C. Wildlife Health Program is part of this program and is involved in training, coordinating sample analysis and working in partnership with regional staff and several First Nations.”

According to McInnis, the goals of the study are to develop wildlife health baselines, and survey wildlife health and human health issues that include food safety and security.

In order for the study to be successful, LBN is asking that any moose that has either been harvested or found dead in the area is reported to one of their technicians working on the project, and someone will assist to collect samples. Technician contact information can be found on the LBN Facebook page.

READ MORE: Wolf culling helping Caribou population

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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