Last fall's first controlled Larose Forest moose hunt sanctioned by the provincial government since 1994 wasn't exactly a bust.
It drew trophy hunters from all over who scrambled for the limited permits... 210 going to firearms owners and 30 to bow hunters.
However, while the limit was set at 50 animals, only 21 were bagged, and since then, the already congested moose population has exploded.
This time, MNR means business. The odds are definitely stacked against the moose.
The estimated 250 moose in Larose and surrounding area will be the designated quarry in three, count -em, three, separate controlled hunts this fall, extending over 12 days from Nov. 23 to Dec. 4.
While the moose may find it hard to believe, the hunts have been authorized to ensure the long-term health of the herd which can be affected by mange due to overcrowding.
'Hunting is used to manage the size of the herd as there is a limited amount of suitable moose habitat in this area,' MNR explained in an information release.
The hunts will comprise a firearms event in the main block of Larose Forest with a limit of 45 animals; and two archery-only events in specially designated blocks in South and North Plantagenet Townships, with limits of 10 in each block. Firearms hunters get to hunt for one day while bow hunters get three days in the field.
As was the case last year, hunters holding a valid moose licence were invited to enter a random draw by picking up an application form at one of 20 Eastern Ontario locations and returning it completed to MNR's Kemptville office by Nov. 12. The draw was scheduled for Nov. 16 at Bourget Community Centre.
The action is seen as the only way to control the ever-expanding moose population which was not only barely dented by last year's hunt, but actually seemed to thrive following the January ice storm.
'The moose population continues to increase in this predominantly agricultural area due to mild winters, abundant food and the absence of any natural predators,' MNR states.
The long-term solution to moose overcrowding is a scheduled yearly hunt, said Prescott-Russell stewardship co-ordinator Steve Virc, adding the stewardship council is working with MNR to make it happen.
Located 40 km east of Ottawa, the Larose preserve contains the southernmost moose herd in the province... and one of the most densely populated. Members of the herd spill into the nearby Alfred Bog and wander through farm fields in between.
This year's aerial survey by MNR spotted 121 moose which, said Virc, might indicate up to 250 living in Larose, the Bog and surrounding bushland.
In the past year, density of the herd has increased by 30 per cent. Aerial counts taken since 1991 indicate a dramatic leap from 45 animals to the 121 observed this year.
Such a sharp increase causes several problems in addition to mange including: severe food shortages; genetically inferior offspring more susceptible to disease; a major traffic hazard to passing motorists; and a crop-trampling nuisance to a area farmers.
MNR has been rebuked by the auditor general for a lack of adequate management policies for moose, deer and bear, which recently led to an investment of an extra $10-million in beefing up the policies.