As most hunters are already aware, the opening of the hunting season for the George River Caribou Herd has been delayed pending further analysis of the July 2010 census results. A notable change has occurred in the opening dates of most of the extensions zones. All extension zones with the exception of the George River, Big River and Bay of Islands Zones which were to be opened on 10 August, all have To Be Determined (TBD) opening dates. Whether these opening season dates for extension zones remain TBD is yet to be resolved. To date, there has been no decision on the opening date for the George River Caribou Herd for hunting.
For the 2010-11 hunting season, there have been major changes to moose hunting season dates and harvest options. All Moose Management Areas (MMA) have had their seasons adjusted to remain open until the second Saturday of March annually (13 March 2011 this season). This will allow hunters to be able to safely harvest moose during the winter season and will permit hunters to penetrate into previously inaccessible portions of the hunting zones and affording a better opportunity to harvest an animal. Also along with this extended winter season hunters are now permitted to harvest an animal of either sex or age, meaning that hunters can take a Bull, Cow or a calf in any management area. Hopefully, harvest rates will improve and support the increase in MMA quotas in future hunting seasons.
Another improvement is a change in the priority pool system in which there are now 9 pools corresponding to the old pool system. This new system benefits hunters in that it shows their advancement to a new pool number each year they are unsuccessful lessening the confusion in the old pool system where hunters could remain in pool 1 for four or more years. The likelihood of being successful in the draw remains the same with the new pool system as it was for the old one.
In past seasons the bag limits for Willow Ptarmigan in the southern zone were 25 daily with 50 possession and Spruce and Ruffed Grouse combined were 20 daily bag and 40 possession. For the 2010-2011 season bags limits have been increased for Spruce and Ruffed Grouse to be the same as for Willow and Rock Ptarmigan at 25/50. This will help eliminate hunter confusion between both species bag and possession limits.
For a full summary of season dates, bag limits and other regulations hunters should consult the 2010-2011 Hunting Guide at: http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/hunting/hunttrap.pdf
Tony Chubbs is a Wildlife Biologist, Naturalist and Outdoor Writer. Tony resides in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and can be contacted at email@example.com