DNR calls off Minn. moose hunt, says population halved - KMSP-TV

DNR calls off Minn. moose hunt, says population halved since 2010

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday there will be no moose hunt because aerial population surveys have shown a dramatic decline since 2010.

"The state's moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter," said Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

According to the DNR, the moose population in the northeastern part of the state declined 35 percent in last year alone for a total decline of 52 percent since 2010.

In light of the data, the DNR says it will not open a moose season on 2013. No future hunting seasons will be considered until the population recovers, officials say.

"This is further and definitive evidence the population is not healthy," Landwehr said. "It reaffirms the conservation community's need to better understand why this iconic species of the north is disappearing from our state."

Landwehr was careful to stress that the state's limited hunts did not cause the population decline, but he said suspending future hunting is a reasonable and responsible response to the data observed because of the species' uncertain future.

"It is now prudent to control every source of mortality we can as we seek to understand the causes," Landwehr said.

A survey conducted in January estimated the population at 2,760, which is down from 4,230 in 2012. The 2012 population numbers were less than half of the estimate of 8,840 seen in 2006.

The DNR is trying to determine what is causing such rapid deaths among the state's remaining moose through the largest, high-tech, multi-partner research effort ever undertaken.

In January, researchers began fitting 100 moose with GPS tracking and data collection collars. To date, 92 animals have been outfitted near Grand Marais, Ely and Two Harbors. It is hoped that the data collected can help identify management options to stop or slow the decline.

The DNR has been conducting aerial moose populations since 1960 by flying over 49 randomly-selected plots in the state's Arrowhead region.

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