Moose calf morbidity study continues with only 15 calves
The moose calf morbidity study begun in May 2013 with 49 calves captured and collared with GPS homing devices by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) workers now show there are only 15 calves left to track.
But the high rate of mortality has slowed down, said research scientist Glenn DelGiudice, in charge of the study.
“The last calf mortality was July 2, a bear-kill. Calf mortality has slowed down quite a bit since the last two weeks of June,” said Dr. DelGiudice.
As of July 21, the preliminary causes of natural mortality included: two cases of natural abandonment; one abandonment of unknown cause; one drowning; four bear kills; eight wolf kills; and three probable wolf-kills.
Four calves have slipped their collars and may be okay.
A normal calf mortality rate is 60 percent, but scientists have noted that in recent years calf mortality has grown to 70 to 80 percent in Minnesota, not enough to sustain the moose herd. Seemingly healthy adults are also dropping dead, and researchers are in a race to figure out what is causing moose to die at such an alarming rate.
In Northern Minnesota moose have declined from more than 8,600 in 2006 to less than 3,000 last year. In Northwestern Minnesota there are fewer than 20 moose left from a herd of over 4,000 in the mid-80s.
This calf morbidly study dovetails with a larger ongoing study of GPS-collared adult moose and is also related to several insect studies which should help scientists put the pieces of the puzzle together so they can form a picture of what is causing the moose to disappear.
Helping the DNR in this wide-ranging study is the 1854 Treaty Authority, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Minnesota College of veterinary medicine.