11/12/2015 18:24 EST | Updated 11/12/2016 00:12 EST

Proposed small-scale moose cull in national park sparks protest, confrontation

HALIFAX — The head of an organization that represents about 4,000 anglers and hunters in Nova Scotia says a Parks Canada plan to kill about 40 moose in a small section of Cape Breton Highlands National Park is badly flawed.

Ian Avery, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, says the experimental cull is a bad idea because the science behind it doesn't add up.

Parks Canada says the 960-square-kilometre park has too many moose, which are eating so many young trees that the park's boreal forests are being transformed into grasslands that don't support certain species.

But before it organizes a full-scale cull, the federal agency says it wants to measure the impact of a small-scale hunt on the vegetation in a 20-square-kilometre area near North Mountain as part of a four-year study.

Parks Canada official Derek Quann had arranged for several Mi'kmaq hunters start killing the moose this week, but the hunt was temporarily called off Wednesday when about 30 protesters entered a restricted zone and confronted the hunters.

Avery says the federation was not involved in the protest, but some local guides and hunters say the cull should be stopped because two harsh winters have left the moose population greatly diminished.

Quann says the hunt will resume later this fall once the hunters' safety can be assured.

The Canadian Press