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According to Statistics Canada (2015), Manitoba has an estimated population of 1,292,151 people and its capital is Winnipeg. Manitoba has a Land Surface of 548,356 square km/211,721 square miles and a Water Surface of 101,592 square km/39,225 square miles. That gives this province a population density of 2.2 people per sq km. Wikipedea
Data on wildlife was obtained from the Five-Year Report to the Legislature on Wildlife reviews the period between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2012. The next report is not due until 2017.
Manitoba Hunting Zones
During the fall and winter, a relatively small number of Beverly herd caribou migrate into the northwest part of the province and the more numerous Qamanirjuaq herd caribou migrate into the eastern part of the province. The herds were healthy at the start of this 5 year review period but then their numbers started to drop in the last year (2012). Females start the northward spring migration back to calving grounds in Nunavut in March and April, followed by males in May. On occasion some females remain in Manitoba and calve within the tree-line.
Five First Nation communities hunt Barren-ground caribou in northern Manitoba: Lac Brochet, Tadoule Lake, Nelson House, South Indian Lake, and Brochet. Hunting tags were also allocated to both resident and non-resident licenced hunters (800 and 440, respectively). During this review period resident licenced hunters could harvest a caribou during the fall and winter up to the end of February whereas non-resident licenced hunters could only hunt caribou during the fall season. Most resident hunters harvested caribou in winter months accessing hunting areas from winter roads north of Lynn Lake. Each season signage is placed on winter roads that informing hunters of current herd management information, safety concerns, and promoting respect for caribou.
The Beverly and Qamanirjuaq Caribou Management Board was established to ensure the longterm conservation of these two significant herds for traditional use by people in northern Manitoba and adjacent jurisdictions. It consists of representatives from two territories, two provinces (including Manitoba), and four native cultures. The board is supported by Manitoba and other jurisdictions and it has again made significant contributions to the management of both herds during the reporting period. The importance of these herds to the people in northern Manitoba and elsewhere is significant. A board sanctioned study estimated that the replacement value of caribou meat to traditional harvesters on the ranges of both herds to exceed $20 million.
During fall 2008, Manitoba, Nunavut, and the board collaborated on a survey for the Qamanirjuaq herd and estimated it to contain 345,000 caribou. Similar surveys for the Beverly herd estimated it to contain 125,000 caribou. Caribou were also radio-collared to obtain information on migration movements and other vital life history information required to manage the herds at sustainable levels.
Manitoba’s black bear management focuses on maintaining healthy bear populations while safeguarding human welfare and minimizing damage to crops and property. This becomes a delicate balance as human populations expand into areas occupied by bears and as bears reoccupy unmanaged land that was once cultivated. A draft 2011 Black Bear Management Plan outlined Manitoba’s approach which includes both education and awareness to inform people how to deter bears from associating people and dwellings with food and regulating hunting to manage the density and distribution of bears. The draft plan included revised policy and procedures for the mitigation of human-bear conflict and orphaned black bear cubs.
The black bear population is estimated to be at, or near, carrying capacity, with limited increases being recorded in the transition areas bordering the boreal shield to the north and the prairie plains to the south. The present managed hunting regime includes both a spring and fall hunting season and also serves to improve human safety and reduce property damage in a cost-effective manner.
The annual sale of bear hunting licences ranged between 3,160 and 3,640 and was similar to previous reporting periods. However, resident hunters, which accounted for 40 percent of licence sales in the last review, now account for over 50 percent. The decline in foreign resident sales is thought to be the result of the economic downturn in the US economy. Since resident hunters have lower success rates (40 percent compared to 75 percent), annual black bear harvests have declined by seven percent, ranging between 1,750 and 2,050 animals harvested. Overall, hunters harvest six to eight percent of the estimated 27,000 – 32,000 bears. To achieve GHA populationmanagement targets, foreign resident hunting opportunities are regulated in response to resident harvests. Foreign resident hunting quotas are typically reviewed every three years and more hunting opportunities are provided in areas with higher human-bear conflicts.
Province-wide, the elk population was stable and was estimated at 6,400 animals, slightly below the 2002 estimate of 7,900 elk. The decrease is mainly attributed to the regulated reduction in the Riding Mountain elk herd, which occurred as part of bovine tuberculosis management activities in the Riding Mountain area. 59
The number of elk in each of Manitoba’s major herds in 2012 was estimate as follows:
· The Duck and Porcupine mountain herds remained stable at approximately 1,700 and 300 animals, respectively.
· The Spruce Woods population remained stable at approximately 600 animals.
· The South Interlake elk population was approximately 950 animals.
· The Riding Mountain area population was estimated at approximately 1,700 animals, below a pre-disease target of 2,500.
Small satellite herds of 25 to 150 animals continued to persist in the Pine River, Ethelbert, and the Kettle Hills areas in the west; the Vita and Piney areas of the south-east; the Oak Lake, Plum Lake areas; the Tiger Hills and the Turtle Mountains in the south-west; and in Game Hunting Area (GHA) 20 in the north Interlake.
The demand for elk hunting opportunity far exceeds the number of licences available. To provide a fair allocation of elk licences to Manitoba residents, licences are issued through the Big Game Draw to resident rifle and archery hunters. There are also licences issued through the Landowner Draw to landowners who own a quarter-section of land or more in the areas where an elk season is offered. Because of high resident demand, there are no non-resident elk hunting seasons
Moose are a cornerstone wildlife species enjoyed and venerated by many and hunted by rightsbased Aboriginal harvesters (First Nations, Métis), licensed residents and the outfitting industry. The unregulated moose harvest remained unknown during the reporting period. All hunting can alter population characteristics, including age structures and sex ratios and changes to habitat, human disturbance, moose population demographics, disease, parasites and predation all influence moose population dynamics.
Since the turn of the century, moose populations are thought to have remained relatively stable in Manitoba at approximately 30,000 animals. However, recent aerial surveys in several GHAs have indicated dramatic population declines from recorded highs in previous decades:
· The Duck Mountain (GHAs 18-18C) decreased by 58 percent
· The Swan-Pelican (GHAs 14-14A) decreased by 90 percent
· Eastside of Lake Winnipeg (GHA 26) decreased by 64 percent
· Central Interlake (GHA 21) decreased by 70 percent
To curb these declines, all moose hunting was temporarily suspended in 2011 in the Duck Mountain, Porcupine Mountain and Swan-Pelican areas through total area conservation closures, while in GHA 26, a partial area closure was instituted in January 2012.
The demand for moose hunting opportunities exceeds supply in most road-accessible areas. In these areas, moose hunting licences are allocated through the Big Game Draw. In more remote areas east of Lake Winnipeg and in northern areas, moose hunting licences are available at licenced vendors.
Annual sales of moose hunting licences have ranged between 3,610 and 4,873. This was an overall decline of approximately14 percent decline since the last five year review. Winter moose hunting opportunities in particular have become less popular.
The provincial white-tailed deer population declined as a result of severe winter mortality during the reporting period. Manitoba Conservation responded to this decline by reducing harvest by removing the second deer licence in most deer hunting zones that were significantly impacted. Province wide, the January anecdotal population estimates ranged between 110,000 and 130,000 during the reporting period. Deer numbers in and around the City of Winnipeg remain stable and there were ongoing concerns about human-deer conflicts. Manitoba Conservation encouraged hunting to manage deer numbers in GHAs near Winnipeg.
In 2003, Manitoba Conservation developed the Near-Urban Wildlife Strategy, initiated in part by safety concerns related to the use of centrefire firearms near highly populated areas. Manitoba Conservation consulted with municipal governments around Winnipeg to develop and implement the strategy and a Near-Urban Wildlife Zone. In 2005, a provincially regulated prohibition of centrefire rifles for big game hunting was introduced within this zone - which included all or portions of the Rural Municipalities of Headingly, Rosser, Rockwood, St. Andrews, West St. Paul, East St. Paul and St. Clements. Hunters are able to use other legal equipment types (shotgun, muzzleloader, archery, and crossbow) during the rifle deer season within the zone. In 2010, a deer season was implemented in GHA 38 in the RM of MacDonald. A second and third deer licence continued to be offered to resident hunters in selected GHAs in Deer Hunting Zones C and F.
Gray and Red Wolves
Wolves inhabit most of Manitoba’s forested and tundra areas in varying densities. Populations, estimated at a minimum of 4,000 animals, remain stable throughout most of the province. However, in southern agricultural areas, wolf numbers are thought to be increasing. While regulated wolf hunting and trapping occurs throughout Manitoba, these activities are prohibited in Riding Mountain National Park area to protect that population.
Wolves are the primary predator of adult and calf moose and can have a major impact on low moose populations. In moose recovery areas (Duck Mountain, Porcupine Mountain, SwanPelican area and GHA 26), moose population modelling suggested that reducing winter wolf populations by 50 percent would aid moose population recovery. Hence in 2011 Manitoba Conservation introduced a trapper incentive program and increased the bag limit from one to two wolves. Under the program, trappers were paid a $250.00 honorarium for each wolf taken. Typically, trappers take about 300 wolves while licensed hunters take another 200. However, during this reporting period the trapper harvest has decreased in spite of high pelt prices. This decrease was thought to be due to the increased incidence of mange in the population, which reduced the value of pelts.
The lynx harvest was unusually variable during the reporting period. Lynx reached their cyclic population peak at the beginning of the last reporting period, in step with its 10-year cycle. It then decreased at the beginning of this period, but subsequently and unexpectedly increased. The dynamics of this species in Manitoba continues to be investigated.
Bobcats remained uncommon in southern Manitoba. While harvesting was incidental and very low it increased slightly from the previous reporting period, particularly in southeastern Manitoba.
Wolverines are rare in Manitoba, but the population was stable and sustainable at reported harvest rates. Remote north central and northeastern regions are considered reservoirs for this species due to relatively abundant habitat and food (large ungulates). Individuals harvested in the Pine Falls and Bissett areas of southeastern Manitoba documented the long term reoccupation of its former range. Wolverine harvest rates will be closely monitored as human development encroaches the north.
Cougar remain elusive in Manitoba and populations likely remain low. On average, 50 to 55 sightings a year are reported and mapped to monitor changes in range or relative abundance by region. The number of reported sightings has increased in recent years as the public has become aware of the presence of cougar in Manitoba following the widely reported deaths of two cougar in 2004. Most sightings fail to yield conclusive evidence of a cougar’s presence but fresh tracks in snow or soft ground are occasionally reported and investigated.
In 2008, a cougar was photographed running through a farm yard near Plum Coulee, southwest of Winnipeg, and a few months later a second cougar was photographed in a cottage subdivision north of Lac du Bonnet. In late summer 2010, tracks in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park were confirmed to have been made by a cougar and in January 2011, a young male cougar was killed by a power snare set for coyotes in an area adjacent to the park. Also in 2011, a trail camera photographed what appears to be another young male cougar adjacent to the boundary of Riding Mountain National Park.
Each of these incidents generated a great deal of interest in cougars by the public and over 2,600 people have attended information sessions held between 2007 and 2012 in communities and provincial parks across southern Manitoba. The sessions conveyed information on the biology and ecology of the species and advised people what to do if they encounter a cougar.
This unique subspecies of bison was designated as protected in Manitoba by regulation in 1994. From 22 animals released in two groups in 1991 and 1996 near Chitek Lake in the northern Interlake region, the herd has grown to an estimated 250 to 300 animals. Manitoba Conservation is continuing to work co-operatively with Skownan First Nation to address management issues as they arise.
Boreal Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus Caribou)
Manitoba Conservation has continued to support research and monitoring to determine movement patterns, home range, population sizes on various ranges and mortality to identify critical habitat and securing the future of this species in Manitoba. Under the 2006 boreal caribou recovery strategy Manitoba recognized 10 caribou ranges based on geography or radio-telemetry investigations. The species is found in other areas but there are no data to identify specific ranges. Range delineations will be updated based on new information in a future updated strategy.
The estimated population is 1,821 – 3,135 animals. This does not include coastal animals, namely the Pen Island (approximately 10,000 animals) and the Cape Churchill (approximately 5,000 animals) herds. Populations of caribou in boreal areas are difficult to count. Limited licensed and First Nations hunting for caribou is permitted for the Cape Churchill and Pen Island herds but licences are controlled. Licensed hunting for boreal woodland caribou no longer occurs.
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship continue to monitor populations with the use of radio telemetry across many caribou ranges (east of Lake Winnipeg, Northwest Manitoba, and Northeast Manitoba). These collaborative projects are supported by the local caribou management committees, which includes Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, the Manitoba Model Forest, Manitoba Hydro, First Nations, Environment Canada (Habitat Stewardship Program) the Sustainable Development Innovation Fund, Endangered Species and Biodiversity Fund, Tolko Inc., Hudson Bay Minerals, Parks Canada Agency, Manitoba Eastside Road Authority, University of Manitoba, Trent University and the University of Toronto.
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Mule deer sightings were regularly reported by Manitoba Conservation staff, hunters and others in several locations. Most sighting occurred in the southwestern part of the province, but several reports came from the Interlake, Duck Mountain and Riding Mountain areas. Formal aerial surveys are not conducted, but numbers remain low. Mule deer also remain a protected species with no hunting seasons.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritmus)
The impact of climate change on the Western Hudson Bay population of polar bears continues to be of concern. The 2011 population survey estimate (1,030 bears) was similar to that from 2004 but significantly lower than the 1987 Canadian Wildlife Service estimate (1,200). Scientists linked this decline to reduced body condition and reduced survival of cubs and sub-adult bears. As a result, Manitoba became the first jurisdiction in Canada to list polar bears as an endangered species in 2008.
Manitoba Conservation flies up to three coastal surveys each year to estimate the number of bears along the Hudson Bay coast immediately after ice breakup and just before freeze-up. Manitoba also cooperates with surveys and research conducted by Nunavut, Parks Canada and Environment Canada and collects weight and body condition data from bears handled in the Polar Bear Alert Program. The department also actively monitors denning areas along the coast including the Kaskatamagan Wildlife Management Area.
Churchill continues to be the premiere site for observing wild polar bears and thousands of visitors from around the world travel to Churchill each October and November to view them. The Churchill Polar Bear Alert Program manages human/polar bear interactions in the town site and surrounding areas to keep people and property safe from polar bears and to ensure that bears are not unnecessarily harassed or killed.
In 2009, Manitoba announced a $31 million investment to create the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The centre will conduct and co-ordinate polar bear rescue, research, and education thus achieving the goals and objectives of The Endangered Species Act and The Polar Bear Protection Act. By 2011 the zoo extensively expanded and retrofitted its former bear exhibits to create a rescue centre for orphaned cubs or compromised bears and in 2012 completed the construction of an education/research building with classrooms and laboratory space
- Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos)
- Muskox (Ovibos moschatus)
- Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)
- Swift Fox (Vulpes velox)
Photo Credit for Background
Joel Penner - Flickr
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