It’s been five years since Dan Simmons started the Cow Moose Sign Project to stop the shooting of anterless moose in Region 5 and the campaign is continuing to grow and gain momentum.
This past year has seen major growth in the Cow Moose Sign project, with 57, four by eight foot signs purchased in 2019 bringing the total number of larger signs to 107, and another 710 smaller signs. All the signs have been either purchased or donated and distributed around the province in hunting regions including the Omineca, Cariboo, Skeena and Thompson-Nicola.
“I’m so proud of all the people involved and how the First Nations communities have stepped up,” Simmons said, noting 30 First Nations communities are on board supporting the campaign. “They are trying, yes they are. They do care.”
Simmons said he took the stand to protect cow moose by educating the public through the signage on the importance of the cow moose for the future of its population, which has struggled over the last decade for a number of reasons.
Signs can be seen at businesses, along highways and even nailed to trees in moose habitat to serve as a reminder to those tempted to shoot antlerless moose, which is legal for First Nations hunters year-round.
“For me, it just got to the point where I thought, ‘enough, I have to do something,’” said Simmons, a former guide and hunter.
“The project has definitely changed me. A lot of guys, including myself, wouldn’t even shoot a moose now. Certainly not an anterless moose. Shooting a cow moose — it’s just not the right thing to do, especially in this region.”
Simmons said along with attitudes, the next change he’d like to see changed is for the government to end the antlerless moose Limited Entry Hunts.
“The cows shouldn’t be allowed to be hunted by anyone, that’s my opinion. There should be a total moratorium on anterless moose. Give them a chance to recover. Take them out. Set an example,” Simmons said.
“Just stop it. It’s the right thing to do.”
Currently there four LEH tags available for antlerless moose in Region 5, 175 in Region 4 and 161 in Region 7, he said.
“I don’t understand it at all. They shouldn’t be in our limited entry. Why are we killing cow moose?”
Simmons said he believes the moose population has declined due to mismanagement, but does acknowledge the efforts to reduce the number of LEHs locally and provincially and by local ministry staff, particularly that of the late Rodger Stewart.
“He did so much to help me with this project,” Simmons said. “I’ll never forget Rodger for all his dedication and work. He was highly supportive of the project.”
Simmons believes there is hope for the population, and remains cautiously optimistic that it will turn around with the efforts being put forward by government and First Nations leaders.