Hunting author and wildlife photographer Richard P. Smith believes the time is right for hunting moose in Michigan - with a camera.
Moose were reintroduced to the state in 1985 when 59 Algonquin Provincial Park moose from Canada were released in Marquette County. Since then the herd growth has been less than impressive.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife researcher Dean Beyer told Howard Meyerson of the Grand Rapids Press that the herd "has a rate of growth over the past 10 years of 8 or 9 percent per year on average. In comparison to other wildlife populations, that's fairly slow." The most recent data puts the number of moose in Michigan at about 500. That's far too few to allow hunting. But Smith feels that hunting them with a camera is something the state should promote in the meantime.
"I began photographing moose before they were brought in from Ontario," Smith said. "I would shoot photos of them on Isle Royale and in Minnesota. When discussions began about holding a limited moose hunt in Michigan, I thought, we don't need to wait. We can have a camera moose hunt."
And Smith didn't wait. He sponsored a camera moose hunt last fall to promote the "sport" and the animal. Smith said the contest went well and he hopes the state will follow his lead by promoting camera hunts for moose. Such a move would not only generate tourism but could also provide much needed data for the short-staffed DNR that could ultimately lead to an actual non-camera hunt season.
I think Smith's onto something, but am pretty sure I'll wait until I can hunt moose with a rifle before traveling to Michigan. I'm all about appreciating nature through a camera lens, but to call taking photos "hunting" just doesn't seem right to me. Also, it's too cold up there for me to make two trips.