This past winter in Quebec was long, cold and snowy—the worst in a decade from a game animal perspective. White-tailed deer populations are likely to have been impacted, and hunters may have to hunt a bit harder this fall to find their buck.
In 2018, chronic wasting disease was detected on a red deer farm in the Laurentides Region in western Quebec. All of the deer were culled, as were 750 deer and moose in a control area around the farm to reduce the risk of the disease spreading into the wild. Fortunately, none of the wild deer or moose tested positive, but monitoring is ongoing. To assist in this effort, hunters need to be aware of special hunting regulations in place for zones 9 West and 10 East.
Moose winter ticks are a growing concern, triggering a major research project in eastern Quebec and neighbouring New Brunswick. The study aims to understand and predict the interaction between the parasites and their moose hosts, taking into account climate change and moose population densities.
Hunters and trappers in Quebec harvested more than 6,500 black bears in 2018. That is a record, and an increase of roughly 28 per cent over the average of the previous five years. Sport hunters typically account for approximately 90 per cent of bears taken, with 90 per cent of the hunts occurring in the spring. The harvest success is about 31 per cent, and it has been increasing slightly over the past five years. Black bears can be found pretty much throughout the province, but the strongest populations and highest hunter harvests are in the southwest.
At 17,000 animals, Quebec’s 2018 moose harvest was down significantly from 2017 and the five-year average of 22,000 animals. Factors such as lower licence sales and poor weather during the rifle season likely contributed to the reduced harvest. Wildlife managers report that the harvest of adult bulls, a key indicator of the health of the overall moose population, remained stable. So, with favourable weather, the coming moose-hunting season could be excellent.
In 2018, the overall harvest of 54,000 deer was about average for the province, but that hid some regional variations. In eastern Quebec, nasty winter weather has held down the deer population and, as a result, the hunter harvest. In the south, however, the milder winters have deer numbers stable or increasing. Across the province, 2018’s hunter success rate was about 35 per cent, one of the best in the past 10 years. The coming season may not be quite as good, however, due to this past harsh winter and a reduction in the number of antlerless deer permits.