How Moose are counted

Did you know that Ontario has about 94,000 moose? The ministry is responsible for
managing sustainable moose populations in Ontario, which is supported by moose aerial inventory (MAI). MAI is designed to provide an estimate of the number of moose in our wildlife management units (WMU).

During MAI, we fly over selected survey areas and count the number of moose and record their age (adult/young) and sex. Combined with mandatory hunter reporting data, this information helps with planning sustainable harvests, setting tag quotas and managing habitat.

We conduct MAI surveys each winter and aim to survey each area once every 3-5 years. Surveys are done from December to mid-February, weather permitting, when it is easier to spot moose and their tracks. Staff conduct surveys when snow is more than 20 centimeters, ideally 30 centimeters deep. They are typically conducted within 12 to 72 hours of fresh snowfall.

Unseasonably warm weather across Ontario in December and early January limited snowfall and delayed the start of surveys until mid-January. With variable weather continuing to pose challenges, we have refocused our efforts on surveying those areas that can be completed where conditions allow and moose remain in mid-winter habitat where they can be seen from aircraft.

Learn more about how we conduct moose population management.