Navigation Links
Listen to the natives for better moose monitoring

Modern methods can answer a multitude of questions, but sometimes traditional techniques are superior. Authorities in northern Quebec, Canada, found this to their cost, when they relied upon statistical data to monitor moose populations.

For many centuries the Cree, an indigenous group of people living in the James Bay region of northern Quebec (around 800km north of Montreal), have lived in harmony with their environment. They hunt a variety of animals including beaver, bear, and moose, killing just enough to feed and clothe themselves. By rotating the territories over which they hunt, and only killing adult animals, they ensure that the animal populations always remain stable.

Until the mid 1980s the James Bay region, at the southern end of Hudson Bay in Canada, was inaccessible to most, and the Cree were the only people who hunted in the region. However, in the mid 1980s, following pressure from sport-hunting and fishing groups, the Canadian authorities granted access to the region (via a previously locked road, known as the James Bay highway, which had been constructed for a hydro-electric project).

Sport hunters travelled from far and wide, hoping to bag a few moose. "At the time wildlife managers were eager to open up access to this region, as they believed it would relieve the pressure on hunting grounds further south," said Colin Scott from McGill University, who led the team documenting these changes.

To ensure that moose populations remained stable the Canadian authorities relied on aerial surveys to monitor moose numbers in hunting territories. In addition records were kept of the number of moose caught by each hunter, and the time it had taken to catch them.

By the late 1980s the Cree people became concerned about the moose numbers, particularly in 'Zone 17', one of the hunting territories in the James Bay region, covering an area of several thousand square kilometres. Using their system of monitoring moose populations (based on moose sightings, tracking and faeces) they detected a significant decline in numbers.

The Cree people alerted wildlife managers, but they were not taken seriously. Instead the authorities insisted that the moose population must be stable because the 'catch per unit effort' (average number of moose caught by hunters in a particular time period) had remained the same over the years.

But by the early 1990s the authorities were forced to concede that there was a problem in zone 17, as it became clear that a severe crash in population had occurred, with a drop of more than 50%. "Opening the road had opened up opportunities for the forestry sector as well, enabling them to clear cut the forest and leaving the moose with less cover to hide in," said Scott. The moose became easy targets and sport hunters became much more efficient. However, because the moose population was declining, their 'catch per unit effort' remained stable, lulling the authorities into a false sense of security.

In this instance the traditional methods of monitoring and managing moose, used by the Cree hunters, was a better measure of moose population. "Their methods rely on more variables and have a greater complexity," said Scott, who presented his findings to the ESF BOREAS conference, which took place at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi, Finland (

Today the Canadian wildlife authorities have learned their lesson, and work closely with the Cree, listening to what they have to say, and respecting their intimate knowledge of the environment.


Contact: Chloe Kembery
European Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. New brain cells listen before they talk
2. Listen-up ladies: Dont postpone knee-replacement surgery
3. How is that whale listening?
4. When fish talk, scientists listen
5. Johns Hopkins researchers detect sweet cacophony while listening to cellular cross-talk
6. Doing what the brain does -- how computers learn to listen
7. Ant invaders eat the natives, then move down the food chain
8. Government, Industry Leaders Come Together to Explore Technology Alternatives to Border Fence for Security, Surveillance
9. Alternatives to ozone-depleting pesticide studied
10. Parasite-resistant peppers green alternatives to chemical pesticides
11. Methyl bromide alternatives indicated for North Carolina tomato production
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... 11, 2015   Growing need for low-cost, ... has been paving the way for use of ... discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and ... used in medical applications, however, their adoption is ... to continuous emphasis on improving product quality and ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... Nov. 10, 2015 About ... that helps to identify and verify the identity ... considered as the secure and accurate method of ... a particular individual because each individual,s signature is ... especially when dynamic signature of an individual is ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... ALBANY, New York , November 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... According to a new market report published by Transparency ... Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", ... value of US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market ... during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 Studies reveal ... human plaque and pave the way for more effective treatment ... cats     --> ... diagnosed health problems in cats, yet relatively little was understood ... collaborative studies have been conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today ... following conference, and invited investors to participate via webcast. ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: ... behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as ... no corporate developments that would cause the recent movements ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company ...
Breaking Biology Technology: