Fredericton — An error at the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources has hunters putting down their rifles and picking up charcoal pencils. Resident moose hunters were anticipating the results of this year’s moose draw on July 6, but now confusion within the department has the outdoorsmen brushing up on more than their aim. As the result of a colossal misunderstanding, the yearly hunting lottery has been transformed into a bloodthirsty artistic competition unlike any other.
Each year, the Department of Natural Resources allows hunters to register for a draw for licences as sanctioned under the moose hunting regulations in the Fish and Wildlife Act. Around 60,000 draw applications are gathered between mid-May and mid-June. Once all of the applications for the 4,612 licences in the 27 wildlife management zones have been gathered, a draw is conducted for permits with the successful applicants being revealed to the public in early July.
However, a major mixup with the application process is putting this year’s licence lottery in jeopardy. After internal cutbacks in the department, DNR assigned responsibility for the moose draw to a novice summer student from Toronto who is attending UNB. The second-year psychology student, 19-year-old Alcesa Elan, apparently did not understand what a moose draw is, having never heard of the concept when growing up in urban Ontario.
“I just assumed a ‘moose draw’ was some sort of nature art competition, presumably for underage children,” she said. “I had a deadline of July 6, so I just went to work. When we received over 60,000 applications, I was thrilled!” By the time senior officials at DNR caught on to what was happening, Elan had already overspent the budget for the draw by more than 400 percent. “I booked facilities at UNB, STU, the Convention Centre, hotels and just about every available public meeting space in Fredericton to host the competition during the July 4th weekend.”
Natural Resources Minister Denis Landry was completely confounded when he learned of the colossal blunder. “We’ve already invested a lot of taxpayer money into this event, and now we cannot afford to do the regular draw. Our summer student has been buying sponsored tweets and Facebook ads for weeks to promote the moose art competition, and the e-vites have already been sent to all of the applicants. Many of the hunters have already completed their artwork submissions as well, and they are looking forward to showcasing them to the general public. I don’t think we have any choice but to go ahead with the moose art competition as envisioned by our student.”
Each of the hunters will be divided into 27 divisions according to the wildlife management zone they indicated on their application. An average number of 170 resident licences will be up for grabs in each division containing around 2,200 people. Winners will be judged on creativity, originality, technique, presentation and emotional impact. There will also be a “people’s choice award” for the piece that receives the most retweets and Facebook “likes.”
“I’m not much of an artist,” said hopeful hunter Gary Ross, “but, it feels like getting a licence is somewhat in my control for the first time. I’ve tried for a moose licence for 7 years now, and I’ve missed out every time. I built a life-sized moose from chicken wire and papier maché and it looks pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself!
“It seems like most of the submissions will be taxidermy-related, so I think I’ll stand out. I’ve got a good feeling about this year. Fingers crossed!”