DNR begins second phase study MN's moose population

11:18 AM, May 18, 2013   |    comments
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DULUTH - In Minnesota's timeless northwoods, the state's most majestic creature is in a race against time. This week, DNR scientists continued their efforts to determine why Minnesota's moose population is declining dramatically.

This week, they tagged, weighed and collared moose calves - baby moose - to track their movement and lifespan.

This is the second stage of the DNR study. The moose population declined 35 percent this year over last, which is the largest decline DNR scientists have ever seen. The study, which covers an area between Two Harbors, Ely and Grand Marais, is designed to figure out why.

Earlier this year, the DNR collared more than 100 adult moose. 50 calves will be collared by the end of this week and now the scientists will have to wait.

"It's almost a catch 22, you want to learn why these animals are dying but in order to do that these animals have to die," says DNR wildlife researcher Lou Cornicelli.

And when they do, the radio collar sends the DNR a text message. Online is how scientists can track moose movement or no movement.

Once a moose dies, the DNR finds the carcass and does testing.

"We know that for every 100 calves that are born about 70 of them die by January. What we don't know is what is it? Is it a predation issue - wolves or bears? Is it a disease issue? Brain worm or some other disease. Is it nutritional," says Cornicelli.

This mortality study is long term and the DNR wants to collar and track moose for at least the next two or three years. DNR officials say the moose hunting season won't be reinstated until they see a measurable increase in the moose population.

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