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Thread: More musings on moose and bears

  1. #1
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Jul 2006

    Default More musings on moose and bears

    Hypothetical question: If predators were drastically reduced in a given area for the purpose of increasing moose numbers would you be willing to shoot calves?

    I ask because the natural dynamic between predators and ungulates is self-reinforcing. Healthy cows typically drop twins yet you rarely see a cow with more than one calf in January. Why is that?

    Roughly 75% of all moose calves don't live to see their first birthday. Most are eaten in their first month of life. Some fall to predation their first summer and the rest are taken by winter. Moose reproduction has evolved in response to, and in service of predators. They "know" that bears and wolves will take many and so they birth surplus individuals to occupy the predators allowing the others to escape. We must also bear in mind that the term carrying capacity relates to winter range conditions. When species are in balance the predation side of the equation checks herd size so that the habitat isn't over browsed and damaged.

    When we hunt large bulls exclusively, or at least nearly so, we disrupt and extend the rut. This draws younger bulls into the breeding pool which stresses them before they are mature and increases their winter mortality and it causes more cows to not be bred during the their primary estrous cycle.

    Come spring instead of 80-90% of calves being born essentially at once we get a significant second and even third calving period. This increases the aggregate calf crop's exposure to predation.

    Back to the original question: If predators were effectively supressed in your hunting area and the moose population expanded greatly would you be willing to take those surplus calves out of the population?

  2. #2


    I don't believe that if the predators were reduced significantly, that there would be an over abundance of moose calves. Nature always finds a way to balance things out between predator and prey. I also don't believe that you could reduce the number of predators in any area enough to create an overabundance of calves. In the area I hunted, there is a good number of predators, wolves and bears, yet I still managed to find plenty of cows with calves, some even with twins though that was the exception and not the rule.

    But to answer your question, if I had the option to shoot a calf because of overabundance then yes, I would do it for the good of the herd plus they are more tender than some big old 60" bull anyways.

  3. #3

    Default I'll pass on the..

    calves. I'll let someone else do it.

  4. #4
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Wasilla, Alaska, United States


    Maybe if it really got to that point, the regs would change so a hunter could take a mature bull and a secondary tag for a calf? Kind of like they do with deer in the lesser 48 where you get a certain number of buck and doe tags per year.

    I wouldn't have a problem with knocking down a calf if the bios said that is what the herd needed. For me it is all about filling the freezer.

    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

  5. #5
    Member bushrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Now residing in Fairbanks from the bush

    Default Intensive Mgmt law is predicated...

    ...on the harvest of cows and calves to meet the upper end of the harvest objectives. So if you don't agree with harvesting calves you likely don't agree with the full scope of IM law.

    Val Geist has some interesting thoughts on taking calves. Here's an interesting read:

    A snippet:
    Young said biologically, harvesting calves emulates natural mortality more closely than a bull-only hunt. Because fewer calves survive through winter than any other age category, a higher percentage of calves that are harvested by hunters would die over the winter anyway--either from starvation or predators. Biologists call this compensatory mortality. Harvest of adult animals, on the other hand, is called additive mortality because adults are far less likely to die over the winter.

    Taking a low percentage of calves can increase hunting opportunity and yield, while having little effect on the population stability. This is an important concept when faced with intensive management. How else can you provide more hunting opportunity, put meat on more tables, yet apply minimal extra pressure on a population?

  6. #6
    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Liverpool, NY (a suburb of Syracuse)

    Default Canada

    I'm not sure about the answer to your question but I believe some Canadian provinces require taking moose calves along with mature bulls. Or at least they did some years ago.

    I know, here in NY, I like to take smallish turkey poults in the fall because they are not going to make it through the winter anyway. Perhapes the same idea (see Bushrat's post) applies to ungulates as well.

  7. #7

    Default Didn't say I don't agree

    with it, just will let someone else to the calf harvesting.

  8. #8

    Thumbs up

    A quick looksee at the number of applicants for the Cow Draw Tags reveal the huge demand for moose meat. I have no reason to believe the same number would apply to kill a calf should not be expected. The current restrictions on hunting has presented an unprecedented demand for something to shoot. Anything.....will suffice.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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  9. #9
    Member ret25yo's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Unit 13


    make it for the last weekend of season... if my freezer is empty .... then yeah i'll take out limpy the lagging calf..

    If you cant stand behind the troops in Iraq.. Feel free to stand in front of them.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    We would be better in some areas if they said you need to take a bear (Brown or Black) or a wolf before takeing a sheep,moose or caribou

  11. #11
    Member pike_palace's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    the 907


    Predator control is doing an excellent job for helping our moose populations. I don't see a reason for a "calf" hunt, as like said earlier, most don't survive long anyway. It's hard enough to find a bull who has survived years of disease, predation, hunters, the road system, the train tracks, winter, etc.

    Maybe a quick registration cow hunt? Thoughts on that?
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

  12. #12
    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Big Lake


    They are harvesting 100,000 moose per year in Sweden. In Alaska we harvest 6000-8000 moose per year. We have similar climate and habitat.

    Don't worry the extra moose will be harvested and eaten.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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