Murre and snow goose harvest surveys

Murre Harvest Survey

A significant consumptive use of seabirds occurs in Newfoundland and Labrador. There, hunters legally hunt Thick-billed and Common Murres (or "turrs") during the winter. Murres are shot from small boats in inshore areas and bays.

A survey conducted during the 2001-2002 hunting season suggests there are approximately 6500 murre hunters in Newfoundland and Labrador. That season, close to 200 000 murres were harvested, most of which were Thick-billed Murres. This represents a substantial reduction in the harvest from the estimated 600 000 to 900 000 birds killed in the 1970s and 1980s (Elliot et al. 1991). This reduction in harvest followed the introduction of hunting restrictions in 1993.

In 2001, murres were added to the list of migratory game birds requiring the purchase of a federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit. Following this regulatory change, the Migratory Bird Populations Division introduced the murre questionnaire survey. This survey has been adapted from sea duck surveys conducted in earlier years. It is sent every year in March to approximately 3600 participants. It allows regional biologists to more closely monitor harvest, hunting activity, and trends in murre populations. The survey also provides insight into regional hunting habits as well as additional data on issues such as Eider hunting and oil pollution. Participants are selected from six hunting zones spanning Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of participants selected in each zone is proportional to the number of permits sold there.

Snow Goose special conservation seasons

Snow Goose populations in both the eastern and western arctic have increased enormously in the past few decades. They are now so abundant that they are considered a threat to the integrity of their arctic habitats, where they over-graze plants. In response, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) introduced special hunting seasons in 1999 to help reduce goose populations. To monitor the success of these measures, CWS introduced special surveys in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, where spring harvest of Snow Goose is allowed. The survey is also used to investigate other questions such as when and where hunting takes place, how many hunters are successful, and which hunting methods are used.

The survey is conducted on current holders of the Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit (MGBHP). To better target survey participants, a subsample is taken from the list of permit holders who purchased their MGBHP after December. This is because most hunting seasons are closed then in the provinces where CWS runs this survey, and we can assume these permits are bought for the spring Snow Goose hunt.

For further information about the special hunting seasons or the Snow Goose overpopulation problem, consult the Overabundant Species page.

Elliot, R.D., B.T. Collins, E.G. Hayakawa, and L. M├ętras. 1991. "The harvest of murres in Newfoundland from 1977-78 to 1987-88." Pages 36-34 in Gaston, A.J., and Elliot, R.D. (eds.). Studies of high latitude seabirds. 2. Conservation biology of thick-billed murres in the northwest Atlantic. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 69. Supply and Services Canada, St. John's, NF.

Page details

Date modified: