Moose Hunting Season Canceled Due to Dramatic Drop in Population

By KBJR News 1

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 11:34 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A recent survey of moose in Minnesota shows that the population has dropped dramatically, forcing the DNR to cancel the 2013 moose hunting season.

The DNR announced today that the northeast population declined 35 percent from last year. Since 2010, the moose population has declined 52 percent.

Because of this decline, the DNR will not open the 2013 state moose hunting season or consider opening future seasons unless the population recovers.

“The state’s moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “This is further and definitive evidence the population is not healthy. It reaffirms the conservation community’s need to better understand why this iconic species of the north is disappearing from our state.”

Landwehr stressed the state’s limited hunts are not the cause of the population decline.

Based on the aerial survey conducted in January, the new population estimate is 2,760 animals, down from 4,230 in 2012. The population estimate was as high as 8,840 as recently as 2006.

While the threshold to close the moose hunt that was established back in 2011 has not been reached yet, DNR managers say that they did not anticipate such a sharp decline.

“It’s now prudent to control every source of mortality we can as we seek to understand causes of population decline,’’ said Landwehr, explaining the rationale for closing the season.

To help solve why moose are rapidly dying, the DNR is leading the what they say is the largest and most high-tech multi-partner moose research effort ever initiated.

Starting in January, wildlife researchers began fitting 100 moose in northeastern Minnesota with GPS tracking and data collection collars. This multi-year research project will investigate the causes of adult moose mortality, calf mortality, calf survival, moose use of existing habitat and habitat quality. To date, 92 collars have been placed on moose in the Grand Marais, Ely and Two Harbors areas.

DNR officials are hoping that with more information and insight from these collared moose will help them to understand to sharp decline in population and help bring their numbers back up.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns