Concerns about a decline in moose populations in the province has led to a reduction in moose tags for hunters as well as a reduction in the calf hunting season. The issue has stirred up quite the debate with people split in half on the subject.

Senior Wildlife Biologist with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Mark Ryckman, talks about the reaction in the hunting community to the new regulations.

"There is already quite a bit of anger and disappointment which is understandable because it's already fairly difficult to get a moose tag. Last year we saw a reduction of about 18 per cent in tags. The result was 6,000 fewer moose licenses sold. We went from 112,000 licensed moose hunters to 106,000," he said.

Ryckman explains the new regulations.

"On average about 15 per cent of tags will be reduced across the province. Some much more so than other. Some are being reduced by about 80 to 90 per cent unfortunately. They are also reducing the calf harvest season. They're moving from a 9 to 13 week open season to a two week open season. That's an extreme response in our opinion," he said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry also plans on delaying the start of resident and non-resident moose hunting seasons across much of northern Ontario by one week in 2016.

According to the MNRF regulation, moose play an important role in Ontario's ecosystems and are an integral component of the province's biodiversity. Moose contribute economic and ecological benefits to the people of Ontario and are highly valued by Aboriginal Peoples.

Recent population surveys showed declines in moose populations in many parts of northern Ontario, a trend also being seen in other North American jurisdictions.

The Moose Project was undertaken to "explore potential management actions to address or mitigate pressures on moose populations such as harvest, predation, parasites, climate and changing habitat."

Still, Ryckman insists the response is dramatic.

"We have concerns because we feel it is an overly extreme response. We had actually proposed a four week calf season, which is a dramatic reduction. But it would allow the MNRF to assess the impact of that type of season change on the moose population," he said.

For more information:
Moose hunting regulation - MNRF
Moose hunters worried about shorter season