Southern Lakes moose show signs of recovery

Counting moose ain't easy. Just ask Shawn Taylor, Yukon's regional biologist for Southern Lakes. He oversaw a helicopter survey of the moose population south of Whitehorse this month.

Counting moose ain’t easy. Just ask Shawn Taylor, Yukon’s regional biologist for Southern Lakes.

He oversaw a helicopter survey of the moose population south of Whitehorse this month.

The good news: “We saw decent numbers of calves.” That’s a sign that the moose population is growing.

The proportion of bulls to cows was also “relatively good”- another sign of a healthy population.

The bad news: there are still plenty of places that ought to be prime moose habitat that appear bereft of the animals.

“The number of moose we see right now is relatively low compared to other areas in the Southern Lakes, and what we see historically,” said Taylor.

A census in 1987 put the number of moose in the Southern Lakes to be around 1,800. Another census done in 2002 showed the moose population cut to 800.

“It’s clear there was a drastic decline,” said Taylor. Hunting pressure, spurred by the widespread popularity of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, has widely been blamed for the decline.

In 1988, the territory introduced a permit hunt for Southern Lakes moose. First Nations have encouraged their members to exercise restraint to allow the moose population to rebound.

Taylor’s team spent a total of 80 hours flying in a grid pattern in search of moose. Spotters included members of the Carcross/Tagish and Kwanlin Dun First Nations.

They faced their share of challenges, the most obvious one being the recent dump of snow, which delayed flights on some days.

Bulls start to drop their antlers at this time of year, and that makes it harder to distinguish bulls from cows.

And moose are always on the move. In the winter the animals move to lower altitudes as winter progresses. These movements make it tougher to deduce the total population based on the samples spotted from the air. The team flew some areas twice to help control for this.

The number crunching hasn’t yet started. Taylor wouldn’t hazard a guess of when the population estimate would be complete.

The survey cost approximately $90,000. It will be used by the Southern Lakes Wildlife Co-ordinating Committee – which includes members from six First Nations, the Yukon and British Columbia governments, and Ottawa – to develop a management plan.

Contact John Thompson at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

Former premier Tony Penikett begins a presentation at the Whitehorse Public Library about his book, Hunting the Northern Character, on Dec. 11, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former premier named to Order of Canada

Tony Penikett reflects on career

Ed Hopkins starts the 36-mile race at the Carbon Hill Race Day on Jan. 10. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Dogs take over Mount Lorne for Carbon Hill Race Day

The Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY) hosted its annual… Continue reading

As it gets set to turn over ownership of its supportive housing building downtown to Yukon Housing, Options For Independence will not be required to pay back more than $65,000 in City of Whitehorse grants it was provided towards property taxes, decided city councillors on Jan. 11. (John Hopkins-HIll/Yukon News file)
Exemption granted for building transfer

Options For Independence won’t be required to pay back city grants

Mayor Dan Curtis speaks during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on March 9, 2020. Whitehorse property owners can expect their 2021 property tax bills to rise by less than a per cent if the operating budget for the year is adopted as proposed. “A minimal tax increase allows the city to maintain its many existing services and programs, while also supporting important initiatives such as climate change mitigation and enhanced bylaw enforcement,” Curtis said. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Minimal increase proposed for Whitehorse property taxes

Budget would see 0.34 per cent tax increase

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton won’t be runing for re-election. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mayo-Tatchun MLA won’t run for re-election

Liberal MLA Don Hutton won’t be running for re-election. A former wildland… Continue reading

Large quantities of a substance believed to be cocaine, a large amount of cash, several cells phones and a vehicle were all seized after RCMP searched a Whistle Bend home on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
Seven arrested after drug trafficking search

RCMP seized drugs, money from Whistle Bend residence on Jan. 6

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a growing trend of vehicle break-and-enters in the Kopper King area. (Black Press file)
Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area

Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a… Continue reading

Signage near the newly opened Dawson City ice bridge. (Sandy Silver/Facebook)
Dawson City ice bridge opens

The Dawson ice bridge has opened. In a Jan. 6 social media… Continue reading

Whitehorse RCMP are requesting assistance identifying three suspects who stole tens of thousands of dollars of property from Cobalt Construction on the evenings of Dec. 28, 29, and 30. They were operating a stolen Toyota Camry, which was beige in colour with the license plate HML66. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
RCMP seeking three suspects after burglary

Whitehorse RCMP are requesting assistance identifying three suspects who stole tens of… Continue reading

Most Read