The number of moose dwelling in Minnesota continues to decline according to the latest Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey numbers, putting this fall’s moose hunt into question.
An aerial survey of the animals this winter estimated only 4,230 moose in the state, down from 4,900 last year. In 2006, 8,840 of the animals existed in the state according to survey estimates.
The DNR will be evaluating the survey data and consulting with tribal biologists before making a decision on a 2012 hunting season. The decision on the season will be announced in the coming weeks. Last fall, the DNR held a bulls-only hunting season, but cut the number of permits by more than half, from 213 in 2010 to 105.
The cause of the decline in Minnesota’s moose population isn’t well understood. The DNR said in a media release, that of 150 adult moose radio-collared since 2002 in Minnesota, 119 have subsequently died, most from unknown causes thought to be diseases or parasites. Ten moose died as a result of highway vehicle accidents. Two were killed by trains. Only 11 deaths were clearly the result of wolf predation.
The agency said this year’s aerial survey showed some positive trends. The number of cows accompanied by calves and twin calves increased in 2012, meaning more calves are available to potentially mature into adults. The cow and calf ratio — estimated at 36 calves per 100 cows in 2012 — remains well below 1990s estimates that likely contributed to a peak population in the early 2000s.
Read the full DNR media release HERE.