02/10/2015 03:08 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT

Ontario hunters upset with proposed changes to the provincial moose hunt

TORONTO - Ontario has proposed stricter moose hunting rules, leaving hunters dismayed.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said the proposed changes — including a shorter gun hunting season and shorter calf hunting window — are in response to steadily declining moose populations in Ontario.

Mark Ryckman, a biologist with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, called the changes an "extreme measure."

The current rules let hunters apply for a license that allows them to kill moose calves during the entire moose hunting season, upwards of 10 weeks in northern Ontario. The government is proposing changing that to two weeks in much of the province.

"Our concern is that it will result in overcrowding, high hunter densities and, ultimately, poor hunting quality," Ryckman said on Tuesday.

The proposed changes came with the recently launched provincial Moose Project that is looking at ways to improve moose numbers.

As part of the project, the province asked Ontarians for feedback on their proposals that are to begin taking effect in the fall of 2015.

Patrick Hubert, a wildlife biologist with the ministry, said recent research showed a drop in moose population since it peaked around 2000. The biggest drops occurred in northern Ontario.

He said there are a number of reasons for the drop in moose numbers: wolf predation, climate change, habitat loss, hunting and disease.

"Hunting is the one factor that we have the most immediate ability to address," Hubert said.