Aerial survey shows moose numbers down

A series of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 
aerial surveys were conducted this winter. Pilots fly transects in 49 
randomly selected plots across the Arrowhead region while researchers 
conduct their count. Unfortunately, the survey indicates that the 
moose population in Northeastern Minnesota has again fallen.
Results of those counts estimate that the 2011 population of 4,900 has
dropped to 4,230 in 2012, a decline of 14 percent.
The decline has been steady. Since 2006, the moose population in 
Northeastern Minnesota has dropped in half, from an estimated 8,840 
moose to the current number.
Just what is causing the moose to die is still a mystery. Researchers 
list abnormally warmer temperatures, disease and parasites as the 
likely culprits, but are continuing to research.
The DNR will evaluate the data and consult with tribal biologists 
before deciding on a 2012 bulls only hunting season. Last fall hunting 
permits were cut in half, from 213 in 2010 to 105 permits issued in 
2011.
There is some good news—in 2013 a two-year study has been funded. It 
will begin, concentrating on identifying disease and parasites that 
might be responsible for high moose mortality.
This study will be cost $600,000 and be funded from the Minnesota 
Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as well as the Fond du 
Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority.
It will be interesting to hear the results of another study—the annual 
moose count conducted on Isle Royale by researchers from Michigan 
Technological University. The researchers are spending seven weeks 
during the winter researching wolves and moose, and conduct aerial 
counts of each as part of their research. Isle Royale is just 17 miles 
off shore from Grand Portage, so will the results be the same?
The count on moose was just finished, so the results weren’t tabulated 
at press time, but we’ll share that information when it becomes 
available.