Impacts on declining moose populations in southeastern Manitoba

Chelsey Shura, James Roth

Abstract


Moose (Alces alces) populations in eastern and central North America have declined in many parts of their southern range. Many potential impacts on moose have been suggested as contributing to moose declines, including changing habitat disturbance regimes and enhanced disease transmission through increasing deer populations. We examined factors affecting moose in Game Hunting Area (GHA) 26 in southeastern Manitoba, where moose populations have declined substantially, by comparing provincial aerial survey data with features of the landscape. Moose were more likely to be found in areas with high logging (>25%) and recent forest fires (within the past 30 years), indicating that moose respond favorably to habitat disturbances. The presence of roads did not affect the likelihood of moose presence. Moose were negatively impacted by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). We used model selection to determine the variables most important for predicting the presence of moose in GHA 26. The best model included the presence of deer, logging, and forest fires. Among the variables considered, deer presence had the highest relative importance. This study suggests that to increase moose numbers, controlled burns and potential logging areas should be considered as ways to produce new habitat and plant growth for moose in the area. Managing the deer population also could control the effect of the deer brain worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis) on the moose population in GHA 26.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5203/pmuser.201311461

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