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Minnesota DNR Says Hunting Not Cause of Moose Population Decline

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January 30, 2013

Minnesota DNR Says Hunting Not Cause of Moose Population Decline

By Chad Love

Minnesota's moose population is in a decline, and some are asking if the state's moose hunting season should be halted because of it.

From this story on minnpost.com:
While no one seems to know for sure why the moose population in Minnesota is declining, the state DNR says hunting isn't the problem and plans another limited hunt in the fall. The Duluth News Tribunesays 45 bulls were taken last fall by licensed hunters. A "tribal harvest" brings the number closer to 100. The state's moose population is estimated at 4,230 animals. John Pastor, a moose researcher and biology professor at UMD, said it's time to stop the hunt, even though it's popular among hunters. “I think the safest thing would be to not hunt them,” Pastor said. “I don’t see any reason to hunt them. … I think it would be a good thing not to hunt them for a year or two.”

Minnesota's moose population has dropped from almost 9,000 animals in 2006 to about 4,000 now. If hunting isn't the reason for the decline, should it continue?

Comments (16)

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from weswes088 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Here in New Hampshire, ticks are probably the primary reason for the population decline. The tick increase may be due to the relatively mild winters the last few years - a late first snow allows ticks to quest for a host longer, and an early snowmelt ensures their survival when they drop off the moose in the spring. The number of permits has been slashed in the last couple years because of the decrease, but it really doesn't seem like much can be done. Lower population numbers should reduce the impact of ticks (fewer moose to feed on and spread ticks around), but it's definitely a tricky situation especially for an animal that is such a tourist magnet.

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from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Tough to say ecspecially since I want to eventually receive one of the future permits to hunt a moose in MN. If hunting moose is limited even more maybe it's time to put stiffer limits on these "tribal harvests/slaughters"

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from jay wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

How in the hell can they say they don't know what happened to the moose while they've left the wolves run crazy in their state killing off all kinds of game. I have a good freind in Northern Minn. that literally lives in the northern woods and says the wolves have just decimiated an area. Is the DNR that dumb or do they just want to cover up the real problem?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Hunting might not be the main cause of decline, but hunting certainly does not help the situation if the population is in decline due to other reasons.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Over hunting is definitely the problem just across the border. The population here continues to nose-dive and the MNR just continues to turn a blind eye to it. Too many $$$ involved! Calf tags continue to be sold over the counter and the MNR can't understand why they're not seeing any calves in their winter air surveys. Duh! Party hunting (fifteen guys can fill one tag), hunting from ATVs, hunting from snow machines, etc. It's wide open up here. The so-called sportsmen groups only want to point the finger at the Indians or wolves. They need to wake up and make some concessions or the resource is just going to disappear. But I have been to the meetings: a more selfish lot of ignorant do-dos you'll never see!

Moose are a difficult resource to manage. It can take a cow up to three years to raise a calf, two years as a rule. They will often have twins but seldom do both survive through the first winter. I suspect the most serious threat to moose in Minnesota is the burgeoning whitetail population. The deer in this area commonly carry brainworm parasite as a primary host. It won't kill them but is fatal to moose. For that reason, the wolves in Minnesota may actually be doing the moose more good than harm by helping keep the whitetail population, which they will prefer as prey, in check.

I agree with a moratorium on Minnesota moose hunting for a couple of years. A decline of 50% in less than a decade is pretty drastic and requires drastic measures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dan_Dan wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I ran a simple population forecast with those numbers and the future ain't rosy.

Guess there is nothing wrong with laying off an animal we love if its having a hard time with something else. Wolves, ticks - both part of what make the north woods wild.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dan_Dan wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I ran a simple population forecast with those numbers and the future ain't rosy.

Guess there is nothing wrong with laying off an animal we love if its having a hard time with something else. Wolves, ticks - both part of what make the north woods wild.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jakenbake wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

As bioguy said, even if hunting's not the cause, it surely doesn't help. Seems like the right thing to do would be to tighten things up and see if the population can stabilize or turn around. That way if you had to shut the season down it wouldn't come as a complete shock to the system.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

OHH not sure where you get that info. Moose hunting in MN requires a draw and it is not an easy one. While you can apply as a group I the size of the group is limited to 4 people, residents only. Also it is a once-in-a- lifetime tag so you only get one after many years of applying. Finally hunting from ATV's or snowmachines is not legal. The price for a resident tag is 310.00, ten times what a deer costs.
The season is closed in NW Minnesota and the draw is for 105 tags spread over 30 zones. I won't argue the biology as Bioguy has forgotten more about it than I will ever know but 105 tags with a relatively low success rate on a herd of 4000 doesn't seem like a crazy overharvest to me.

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from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

@chuckles, Ontaria_Honker is from Canada, not MN. You can even tell by his handle

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Chuckles, you need a new prescription for those cheaters of yours. :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

OHH is that true? You're from Canada!!!???!
I re-read your post and I guess I thought MNR was refering to the MNDNR as some of the rest of the post was about Minnesota. Please excuse my pedantic nature.
Red ink is like a warm hug from an internet troll. Mmmmmm troll hugs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

When i was in New York it was said the moose and whitetail could not co-exist. It seems one carries a parasite that is deadly to the other. The early 1900's the deer were very scarce and moose were increasing. Maybe something like this is happening in MN along with other factors. Moose are once again increasing in N.Y. with some 1500 estimated to be in the Adirondacks. How will that impact the deer herd? Perhaps Bioguy01 can shed some light on this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Here is a link from New York DEC talking about the parasite.

www.dec.ny.gov/animals/72211.html

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Anyone arguing for tags on moose at this point is just not seeing things clearly. When over 2% of the population is being killed by people, I think its time to stop for a while. Moose are not a primary food source for wolves. Yes it happens, but wolves will always pick off the smallest/sickest first leaving the population with a better gene pool. The sad thing is that I doubt the MNDR will ever outlaw (or actually enforce) a ban on tribe hunting. I don't think its their fault for the low population, but people who care about moose in MN should be very concerned right now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

jhjimbo - The Adirondacks isn't really great habitat for either species, so it should support moderate populations of both at best. From a deer's perspective, the ADKs is composed of too much mature forest to support high populations of deer. Also, harsh winter weather conditions will result in some winter kill.From a moose's perspective, the ADKs are a little on the warm side. Both species benefit from forest disturbances that destroy mature forest, thus allowing sunlight to hit the ground and produce woody browse. Unfortunately, the APA has strict limitations on what can and cannot be done in the ADK park.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Hunting might not be the main cause of decline, but hunting certainly does not help the situation if the population is in decline due to other reasons.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

How in the hell can they say they don't know what happened to the moose while they've left the wolves run crazy in their state killing off all kinds of game. I have a good freind in Northern Minn. that literally lives in the northern woods and says the wolves have just decimiated an area. Is the DNR that dumb or do they just want to cover up the real problem?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Over hunting is definitely the problem just across the border. The population here continues to nose-dive and the MNR just continues to turn a blind eye to it. Too many $$$ involved! Calf tags continue to be sold over the counter and the MNR can't understand why they're not seeing any calves in their winter air surveys. Duh! Party hunting (fifteen guys can fill one tag), hunting from ATVs, hunting from snow machines, etc. It's wide open up here. The so-called sportsmen groups only want to point the finger at the Indians or wolves. They need to wake up and make some concessions or the resource is just going to disappear. But I have been to the meetings: a more selfish lot of ignorant do-dos you'll never see!

Moose are a difficult resource to manage. It can take a cow up to three years to raise a calf, two years as a rule. They will often have twins but seldom do both survive through the first winter. I suspect the most serious threat to moose in Minnesota is the burgeoning whitetail population. The deer in this area commonly carry brainworm parasite as a primary host. It won't kill them but is fatal to moose. For that reason, the wolves in Minnesota may actually be doing the moose more good than harm by helping keep the whitetail population, which they will prefer as prey, in check.

I agree with a moratorium on Minnesota moose hunting for a couple of years. A decline of 50% in less than a decade is pretty drastic and requires drastic measures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jakenbake wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

As bioguy said, even if hunting's not the cause, it surely doesn't help. Seems like the right thing to do would be to tighten things up and see if the population can stabilize or turn around. That way if you had to shut the season down it wouldn't come as a complete shock to the system.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Chuckles, you need a new prescription for those cheaters of yours. :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from weswes088 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Here in New Hampshire, ticks are probably the primary reason for the population decline. The tick increase may be due to the relatively mild winters the last few years - a late first snow allows ticks to quest for a host longer, and an early snowmelt ensures their survival when they drop off the moose in the spring. The number of permits has been slashed in the last couple years because of the decrease, but it really doesn't seem like much can be done. Lower population numbers should reduce the impact of ticks (fewer moose to feed on and spread ticks around), but it's definitely a tricky situation especially for an animal that is such a tourist magnet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Tough to say ecspecially since I want to eventually receive one of the future permits to hunt a moose in MN. If hunting moose is limited even more maybe it's time to put stiffer limits on these "tribal harvests/slaughters"

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dan_Dan wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I ran a simple population forecast with those numbers and the future ain't rosy.

Guess there is nothing wrong with laying off an animal we love if its having a hard time with something else. Wolves, ticks - both part of what make the north woods wild.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dan_Dan wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I ran a simple population forecast with those numbers and the future ain't rosy.

Guess there is nothing wrong with laying off an animal we love if its having a hard time with something else. Wolves, ticks - both part of what make the north woods wild.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

OHH not sure where you get that info. Moose hunting in MN requires a draw and it is not an easy one. While you can apply as a group I the size of the group is limited to 4 people, residents only. Also it is a once-in-a- lifetime tag so you only get one after many years of applying. Finally hunting from ATV's or snowmachines is not legal. The price for a resident tag is 310.00, ten times what a deer costs.
The season is closed in NW Minnesota and the draw is for 105 tags spread over 30 zones. I won't argue the biology as Bioguy has forgotten more about it than I will ever know but 105 tags with a relatively low success rate on a herd of 4000 doesn't seem like a crazy overharvest to me.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mayoaaron wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

@chuckles, Ontaria_Honker is from Canada, not MN. You can even tell by his handle

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

OHH is that true? You're from Canada!!!???!
I re-read your post and I guess I thought MNR was refering to the MNDNR as some of the rest of the post was about Minnesota. Please excuse my pedantic nature.
Red ink is like a warm hug from an internet troll. Mmmmmm troll hugs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

When i was in New York it was said the moose and whitetail could not co-exist. It seems one carries a parasite that is deadly to the other. The early 1900's the deer were very scarce and moose were increasing. Maybe something like this is happening in MN along with other factors. Moose are once again increasing in N.Y. with some 1500 estimated to be in the Adirondacks. How will that impact the deer herd? Perhaps Bioguy01 can shed some light on this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jhjimbo wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Here is a link from New York DEC talking about the parasite.

www.dec.ny.gov/animals/72211.html

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Anyone arguing for tags on moose at this point is just not seeing things clearly. When over 2% of the population is being killed by people, I think its time to stop for a while. Moose are not a primary food source for wolves. Yes it happens, but wolves will always pick off the smallest/sickest first leaving the population with a better gene pool. The sad thing is that I doubt the MNDR will ever outlaw (or actually enforce) a ban on tribe hunting. I don't think its their fault for the low population, but people who care about moose in MN should be very concerned right now.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

jhjimbo - The Adirondacks isn't really great habitat for either species, so it should support moderate populations of both at best. From a deer's perspective, the ADKs is composed of too much mature forest to support high populations of deer. Also, harsh winter weather conditions will result in some winter kill.From a moose's perspective, the ADKs are a little on the warm side. Both species benefit from forest disturbances that destroy mature forest, thus allowing sunlight to hit the ground and produce woody browse. Unfortunately, the APA has strict limitations on what can and cannot be done in the ADK park.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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