The first results of the population survey of the Cape Breton moose are positive
The first results from an aerial photograph of Cape Breton’s moose population are encouraging, according to the teams who took to the skies last week.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables partnered with the Unima’ki Institute of Natural Resources to conduct the aerial surveys from February 27th to March 2nd.
“Our last survey of 2020 showed that despite a decline in numbers over the three to four years prior, the moose population remains healthy,” Elizabeth Walsh, a biologist with the provincial agency, told CBC radio Main road Halifax on Tuesday.
“…As we conduct these surveys, this up-to-date information on the Cape Breton moose population will help us make better decisions about how to sustainably manage the herd.”
According to a 2020 aerial survey provincial summary, there were about 2,300 elk in the Greater Highland ecosystem.
Clifford Paul, the elk management coordinator at the Unima’ki Institute, said Lawrence Wells, a Membertou First Nation elder, performed a traditional blessing and smearing of the two helicopters and the crews before the start of this year’s survey.
“He wished us a safe and prosperous mission and I think the power of his prayers has enabled us to get this work done in such an efficient time,” Paul said Main road.
“We’re amazed because we’ve never seen it so quickly and with such a thorough study.”
The teams, made up of members from DNR, the Unima’ki Institute and Parks Canada, were able to complete the survey for four consecutive days thanks to good weather.
Two helicopters, each with a pilot, navigator, recorder and observer, surveyed 416 lines throughout Cape Breton Island, including Cape Breton Highland National Park.
Crews used a distance sampling method commonly used to determine animal population densities by tracking groups along a defined line.
Walsh said there aren’t any concrete numbers of moose yet as an analysis is ongoing.
“We’ve been collecting moose population data for about 20 years, and…continuously collaborating to replicate these surveys helps us identify these population trends over time,” she said.
“It’s just a really great opportunity … to be a part of, and we’re doing a really good job up there.”
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