International Falls, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Minnesota DNR won't be the only group investigating the sharp decline in the state's moose population
Voyageurs National Park plans to capture up to 6 adult moose to attach state-of-art GPS collars this month as part of a continuing project to investigate the potential effects of climate change and other factors on the long-term viability of moose in the park.
The project is a collaborative effort among scientists from Voyageurs National Park and the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI).
Officials from Voyageurs National Park say they are concerned about the long-term viability of its moose population given recent declines in moose populations in other parts of Minnesota and adjacent Ontario.
Researchers at Voyageurs say that factors possibly causing these declines are chronic stress related to warmer summer and winter temperatures and lethal effects of parasites transmitted by white-tailed deer such as brainworm and liver flukes.
Voyageurs National Park protects a moose population of around 50 animals based on recent surveys.
The 2013, capture effort includes the recapture of 6 moose collared in Voyageurs National Park in 2011 and 2012. The collars from the recaptured moose will be removed to download remaining data on the collars. The moose will then be fitted with new collars that will last for up to 5 years.
Voyageurs National Park also plans to capture two adult gray wolves to attach GPS collars similar to those used for moose. The collaring effort, part of a larger wolf monitoring program in the park that includes snow tracking and other survey methods, will aid park managers in assessing the current status of wolves in the park.
The last detailed population estimate of wolves in the Voyageurs National Park area was completed in 2001.
Researchers say that all animals will be captured by an immobilization drug administered via a dart gun shot from a single helicopter. The immobilization, which is temporary, allows handlers to safely attach collars and collect data related to animal health.
Blood and fecal samples will also be collected from each animal as part of a collaborative monitoring effort with the Minnesota DNR.
The capture operation will be conducted by a private company, Quicksilver Air Inc., which specializes in the capture of wild animals from helicopters. Wildlife veterinarians from the Minnesota Zoo will also be on-site.
Some snowmobile trails may be temporarily closed inside Voyageurs National Park to allow for safe capture operations while the helicopter is in the immediate vicinity of a snowmobile trail. Closed trails may include the Chain of Lakes Trail and the overland portages of the Ash River to Kettle Falls Trail.
The capture operation is expected to be completed in 1-2 days between the dates February 10-18, dependent on weather conditions.
Posted to the web by Krista Burns