Northwestern Minnesota was once teeming with moose, but it is getting increasingly difficult to spot one of the animals. The estimated population of moose in the state is hovering at just above 4,000, nearly half of the recorded estimates from 2006. According to the Star Tribune, the species is expected to die out in the next 20 years.

Local conservationists, hunters, and lawmakers are redoubling efforts to preserve Minnesota’s moose. So far, their actions have been hindered by the unknown cause of the population decline. Without knowing the root problem behind the animal’s disappearance, scientists are a loss on how to halt the deaths. Survival rates for both adults and calves are low and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently proposed a reclassification of the animal as a “species of special concern.”

The DNR has also asserted that hunting is not the cause of the decline. With strict harvest limits and regulations, hunters do not have an averse effect on the overall population. Many hunters are at the forefront of the conservation effort, hoping to preserve and restore the Minnesota moose for future generations.

With that in mind, the DNR has launched a $1.2 million research project to discover why the moose are dying. Seventy-five cow and 25 bull moose were fitted with GPS tracking devices along with a multitude of sensors to keep track of body temperature and other essential data.

“The approach we’re using is cutting edge,” said Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli in a statement. “As far as we know, nowhere else in the world has any project captured, collared and tracked so many moose at one time.”

The project will be ongoing for the next several years as scientists explore other options. Researchers hope that once a root cause have been found, efforts can begin to restore the moose population in earnest.

Image from Denali National Park and Preserve (DenaliNPS) on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • Bob

    Hmmm, wolves maybe? Naw, couldn’t be!

  • Ron

    You do not need a $1.2 million study to know that the wolf population is out of control. This is not limited to Minnesota. Ask folks out west, Michigan’s herd, etc. Come on the pendulum has swung way to far in protecting these Alpha predators.

  • Nick

    Yes, it will be interesting in the next 30 years to see what the re-introduction of wolves will do to the herds of game animals. Maybe great grandpap wasn’t such a dope getting rid of all those wolves and coyotes…

  • Mick Nelson

    MN DNR has only proven to be the most inept of all the state offices. Even over MNDOT. They have wasted millions and millions studying situations they have created. With the causes and solutions plainly evident, they pretend they could not have done this, it must be some strange anomole. With a preponderance of (BS) data they present to try to prove their theories, reminds me of a delinquent adolescent rationalizing their foolishness. If we don’t as hunters and fishermen, the true stewards of our environment, put our foot down, these absolute tragedies, will just continue, eventually to the point where they claim we are too much for the resources to handle and they restrict use until they complete the ban. I don’t believe they care about the outdoorsman, or the fact that we float their boat not the general public. I was surprised to hear that they did not blame hunting. But again they couldn’t because they are already strangling the relationship between the hunter and moose. Can you say cougars, and wolves? Also look at the fish kills on major lakes that used to supply a stocking source. The forage base on these bodies of water have declined so much due to the trophy fish needing 10 times more food than “slots”, that their brilliance brought them to talking about spending millions on stocking forage!?!? Good luck America, your hunting and fishing days are numbered.

  • RPJ

    Not being from the area I have to ask what has happened to the deer population? Is it expanding into area that the moose used to be in? Are wolf populations having an effect on them?The reason I ask is because deer carry a parasite that is lethal to moose and the two are usually not found in the same areas. Just a thought.

  • Dutch

    Same as the Moose ahve died out here in western Wyoming. The only places moose flourish is where we keep the wolves at bay. The wolves also carry a parasite that can infect elk, not sure if it would cross the line to moose either.