August 17, 2011
Minnesota Moose Population May Be Doomed
By Chad Love
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is proposing to ban the feeding of deer in parts of the state as a last-ditch effort to halt declining moose populations.
From this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Worried that Minnesota's iconic North Woods moose population could be doomed, the state Department of Natural Resources is proposing an end to recreational deer feeding in northeast Minnesota and the possible closure of moose hunting. But neither step may be enough to keep moose from vanishing from Minnesota. "If we don't do anything, the end point [for moose] is fairly certain,'' said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program leader. The proposals are part of a long-term moose management plan released by the DNR this week. The plan offers those strategies and others, including improving habitat and boosting research, to try to reverse the decline in the moose population.
But no one knows what factors led to the decline. Climate and habitat changes, parasites, impacts from deer and predation all could be causes. About 5,000 moose roamed northeast Minnesota last winter. In the northwest, the population has dropped from 4,000 to fewer than 100. Recreational deer feeding is common in northern Minnesota, and Cornicelli said that tends to concentrate deer, which can spread diseases and parasites, such as brainworm, to moose. The plan suggests a deer-feeding ban in the state's primary moose range, which includes the entire Arrowhead region. An 18-person moose advisory group made the same recommendation two years ago.