The moose population in Voyageurs National Park remains steady, according to a Park Service study released Tuesday. Aerial surveys conducted in late February indicate a population of 46 animals, compared to 51 in 2009.
Over the same time period, the population of northeastern Minnesota moose is believed to have declined at least 65 percent. Voyageurs is located just outside the region considered in those studies.
The Voyageurs study indicates a relatively low annual mortality rate for moose in the park. Researchers stated that about 10 percent of the moose they have collared since 2010 have died each year. While that is similar to mortality rates in other parts of the continent, it is significantly lower than the 19 percent mortality rate observed recently in northeastern Minnesota.
The study didn’t answer why Voyageurs’ moose are doing better than elsewhere in the region. The researchers did state that it’s possible other isolated populations are remaining steady throughout northeastern Minnesota, while overall numbers are declining. They also note that wolves and black bear are numerous in the park – both are known to prey on moose calves – but so are whitetail deer, which might make easier prey.