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Grouse hunting expected to be good once again

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As the season for game birds officially opens here today, the local Ministry of Natural Resources office is predicting another good season for hunters.

“Basically, from a population perspective, the grouse [partridge] are on a 10-year cycle and there should be lots of them,” MNR biologist John Van den Broeck said Monday morning.

Van den Broeck said the grouse continually have improved in numbers in recent years--and expected that trend to continue.

“They peak and valley over a 10-year period although I’m not sure why,” he admitted.

“In general, the peak of this cycle corresponds with the end of the decade. With this in mind, 1999 should be a good year for grouse,” he noted.

Last year, hunters routinely caught their daily limit of five and possession limit of 15.

Still, Van den Broeck noted the success of grouse hunters depended greatly on fall hunting conditions--the falling of the leaves and precipitation.

Meanwhile, the Canada geese season opened Sept. 1 and duck season opened last Friday but Van den Broeck said waterfowl traditionally are a “tough go” to shoot in this area. He said hunters would need an occasional strong west wind to blow the birds off their course and into this area.

But many hunters once again should be gearing up for what should be another strong year to hunt deer and moose. Due to another “mild” winter, Van den Broeck expected a “fair to good” year (due to a better adult survival rate) and the population around here to continue to “rebound.”

The deer population is making a resurgence after a pair of harsh winters in 1995 and ’96. And that’s prompted the MNR to increase the deer tags in this area substantially for the second year in a row.

Last year, the number of tags was increased from 600 to 1,000--and there will be 1,200 tags up for grabs this year in Wildlife Management Unit 10, west of Fort Frances.

“The population has recovered and the allocation depends on the status of the deer,” Van den Broeck reasoned. “Two consecutive mild winters have increased recruitment and improved adult survival.

“As a result, antlerless tag allocations have been increased in most units,” he added.

Resident gun season for deer opens Oct. 9 in local WMUs 7B, 9A, 9B, 11A, 12A, and 12B and runs through until Dec. 15. Resident gun season for deer in WMUs 8 and 10 opens Oct. 30 and lasts until Dec. 15.

Non-resident gun season for deer is open from Oct. 9 through until Nov. 15 in WMUs 7B, 9A, 9B, 11A, 12A, and 12B and Oct. 30-Nov. 15 in WMU 10.

And while the deer is recovering, so is the moose population, said Van den Broeck. “The moose are doing really well, are stable, or improving in our local units 9A and 9B [east of Fort Frances],” he noted.

Moose aerial inventories, or better known as population surveys, were conducted in WMUs 9A, 9B, 12B, and Quetico Park during last winter. The population within these units has either increased or is stable since the previous survey.

The Fort Frances MNR office will be conducting a moose survey this winter on WMU 10 and 11A.

Van den Broeck said moose populations are stable or increasing in all local WMUs, and that hunting prospects for moose this year are “good to excellent.”

Although he again warned much of the success of the hunt is dependent on weather conditions and rutting activity.

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