To date, a staggering 73 km
2 of Terra Nova National Park’s forested areas have been negatively impacted by moose browsing, with 13 km 2 completely transformed into open grassy fields.
The forests of Terra Nova National Park are at risk due to years of over-
browsing by moose, a hyper-abundant species that was introduced to Newfoundland in 1878 and 1904. Without active management of moose populations, the park’s forests will continue to suffer.
To restore forest health, Parks Canada has undertaken a moose management program. During this time, volunteer harvesters will help Parks Canada reduce the number of moose in Terra Nova National Park.
Visitor and public safety is always Parks Canada’s first priority. Staff will make every effort to minimize the effects of this program on the experience you have in the park during autumn and winter seasons.
Information for harvesters | Information for visitors
Want to learn more?
Watch the following video.
Finding a Healthy Balance: Moose Management and Forest Health
I love being outside. As an ecologist I get to see improvements on the ground which is great.
I mean how many people get to go out the door and do that, you know?
Janet Feltham, park ecologist here at the park.
Janet: As a park ecologist you are tasked with making sure that ecosystems are healthy
and that there’s a good balance between visitor use and ecological integrity.
Janet: Moose have been in Newfoundland for a long time now,
since the early 1900s. And they peaked in the park in the mid nineties.
Janet: We had up to five or six hundred moose in our moose population, so
at that stage moose began to have quite an impact in terms of what it ate.
Janet: We began to see big changes in forest composition in probably mid 2000’s,
and then we started to see the understory change.
Because a lot of the new generation of these plants weren’t bouncing back.
Janet: That combined with insect outbreaks, which are normal, like they’re a part of the normal process of forests,
they created an environment for moose to thrive in. So that’s the biggest impact that moose are having.
Janet: Moose can eat a lot of vegetation in one day, and they are huge animals, so they need a lot of food every day.
And so when you walk through an area that’s been browsed by moose, you can see almost, it’s almost like someone took a lawnmower and just went across the forest floor,
and at the same height usually you’ll see trees that have been chopped off.
Janet: We’ve been measuring and monitoring ecosystems in the park for a lot of years now,
and we’ve realized that in a lot of these species in the forest were not doing well.
We didn’t have the age classes that we were supposed to have, we didn’t have the structure underneath the canopy,
the mature trees that we were supposed to have, and then we started realizing we had to act.
Janet: We started having discussions within Parks and
also started reaching out to people who knew a lot about plant growth, a lot about moose, our expertise at universities,
and other partners, and the consensus was to have a controlled moose hunt within the park.
Janet: After a few years of discussions and planning, we had our first hunt in 2011.
And we’re starting to see improvements in the forest health.
Janet: What we’ve been noticing over the past few years is that our browse rate is decreasing.
That’s the first sign that we’re actually moving towards forest regeneration the way it should be.
We’re really hopeful that lower numbers of moose in the park will lead to higher biodiversity across the landscape.
Maintaining ecological integrity in a special place like this is what I find the most rewarding.