This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

Wildlife

Alberta app to track moose population across the province

  • Published Jun 21, 2017
  • Updated Apr 28, 2022
  • 489 words
  • 2 minutes
moose alberta population app Expand Image
Advertisement

There’s finally an app for everything. University of Alberta researchers have created an app to track moose populations across the province.

Moose hunters download the Moose Hunter Survey app and record moose sightings while they’re out in the woods. If they forget, a cow moose call notification sound reminds them at the end of the day.

The app provides better and cheaper data than other methods, like aerial surveys from helicopters that can cost $60,000.

Using hunters to spearhead a conservation program may sound counterintuitive, but Mark Boyce, co-creator of the app and professor of ecology at the University of Alberta said, “The fact is that most conservation has been and is driven by the hunting and angling community.”

Only five per cent of Canadians are hunters, according to Statistics Canada. This may be why so many people don’t see the innate connection between hunting and conservation.

“When I was an undergrad in fish and wildlife biology, all of my colleagues were hunters and anglers. That was why you went into the field,” said Boyce. “Gradually it became more and more young people who want to save the world.”

He said the origins of the conservation movement came from hunters in the 19th century. As the population has become more and more urban, hunters have been some of the best-placed people to notice when animal populations dwindle.

“Many, many species have been brought back by conservation programs that have been promoted by and implemented by hunters and hunters pay for it,” said Boyce, pointing to wild turkeys and elk as success stories.

“There certainly are a lot of people in the public who think that, ‘Oh, so-and-so goes out and kills animals and that somehow they’re opposed to conservation,’” said Boyce. “They just don’t understand, I guess.”

Boyce was quite forward-thinking in that when the app was first released in 2012, there were fewer smartphone and app users than there are today. In its first year, the Moose Hunting Survey app had 3,000 logs.

In 2016, it had 16,000.

Every year Alberta’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks needs to determine how many hunting tags to issue for each of the province’s 178 Wildlife Management Units (WMU)—the areas Alberta is divided into for things like moose population management.

The app provides more accurate information so the Ministry can make better decisions. For example, if a WMU has a large population, a larger number of tags can be issued there.

“We can then monitor how a population responds to a particular harvest level to see what happens next year,” said Boyce. “And if numbers go up or down, we can adjust the harvest quota accordingly.”

The app is now run by the Alberta Conservation Association, of which Boyce is the endowed chair in fisheries and wildlife. It can be found in the Apple store or on the Moose Hunter Survey website

Advertisement

Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

People & Culture

The cowboy exclaims: The ballad of an ageing vaquero and his troubled horse, Bunny

The ultimate goal of vaquero horsemanship is to produce a “finished” horse: an exceptionally responsive animal that is a true partner to its rider

  • 2524 words
  • 11 minutes

People & Culture

In search of promised lands

Uprooted repeatedly by development projects, the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree wandered boreal Quebec for 70 years before finding a permanent home. For some, the journey continues.

  • 7148 words
  • 29 minutes

Exploration

Tracking a 37-day expedition in the Monashee Mountains

Reflecting on an epic 600-kilometre ski traverse across the southeastern B.C. range and charting human and wildlife activity along the way

  • 1591 words
  • 7 minutes

Kids

Animal Facts: Moose

Large and in charge, the moose is one of Canada's most iconic mammals that is known for its incredible size, enormous antlers and captivating appearance. 

  • 331 words
  • 2 minutes