The provincial moose population is lost in the woods.
The Spruce City Wildlife Association is calling on provincial wildlife biologists and other stakeholders to come together in Prince George and discuss solutions.
They are hosting a moose symposium on Apr. 20 at the College of New Caledonia.
According to provincial data, in 1998 and 2005 the moose numbers in the Omineca area were about 20,000 but the numbers have plummeted to about 10,000 now. The population was from 17 to 50 per cent less in certain areas of the Cariboo and a 70 per cent decline was seen in the Skeena-Nass region.
"It was our idea and we've got commitments from some very compelling speakers," said SCWA member Jim Glaicar. "We are inviting biologists from all over the province bringing the latest in hard data, and others will speak as well. We will compare the successes and failures from past experience and talk about ways to see moose populations stay healthy."
The lead scientist on the matter, Prince George's Doug Heard from the Ministry of Forests fish and wildlife division, got his invitation on Tuesday. He is now considering the date and what, from the volumes of information on the subject, might be best to present.
It was Heard who led the calls for a hunting curtailment until more study could be done.
"I don't think hunting caused this, but we are not going to have hunting accentuate it," Heard said in July. "This is not a catastrophe but we want to get on it before it becomes one."
Although hunting is a valued activity enjoyed by many members of the SCWA, that is exactly why the group is gathering.
"If you mess it up, the thing you love is down the drain," said member Erich Franz.
"I don't want to shoot my last moose," said SCWF veteran volunteer Uwe Finger. "I want plenty to always be available. I want to see more next year and more the year after that. My hunting should not have an impact on the health of the moose population, it should be strong enough to always leave room for properly managed hunting."
With much speculation about how and why the moose population seems to have plummeted in recent years, and scientists like Heard so far withholding opinion, a symposium was seen by the SCWA as a proactive initiative for one of the most alarming issues the outdoors group has ever faced.
The full agenda and admission information is still to be announced. For information as it becomes available, check the Coming Events page on the group's website (www.scwa.bc.ca).