There won’t be a moose season this fall in northeast Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources announced today.
Based on results from a recent aerial survey, moose populations in the northeast have accelerated dramatically, the DNR said. Moose numbers were down 35 percent from last year and 52 percent from 2010.
In a news conference earlier today, DNR officials said the state won’t offer moose hunting seasons unless the population recovers. The DNR hasn’t offered a moose season in northwest Minnesota, where only a remnant moose population remains, for more than a decade.
“The state’s moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter,” Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner, said today. “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 said the state’s limited moose hunts aren’t causing the population decline, but the decision to discontinue the season “is reasonable and responsible in light of latest data and an uncertain future.”
Based on the aerial survey conducted in January, northeast Minnesota has an estimated 2,760 moose, down from 4,230 in 2012. The population estimate was as high as 8,840 as recently as 2006.
In an effort to understand and solve the moose decline, wildlife researchers in January began fitting 100 moose in northeast 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.
A copy of the aerial survey report is available online at www.mndnr.gov/moose.