DNR wildlife researchers tackling moose mystery

Courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources


A precipitous 35 percent decline in the population from 2012 to 2013 prompted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to suspend moose hunting in Minnesota.

Check the DNR website for regular updates from moose researchers, an interactive map and closer looks into the varied aspects of a pioneering project about activities going on in Minnesota’s northwoods.

Using funding from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, a $1.2 million project is using the latest technology and an unprecedented amount of DNR staff to learn more about the mortality of this iconic species. It will build on research that is ongoing or planned by other agencies and universities.

Moose inhabiting Minnesota always have been on the southern edge of their species range. Historically, moose have occupied the northwest and northeast portions of the state.

During the last two decades, northwest moose have all but disappeared from the landscape despite attempts to improve habitat and the discontinuation of a hunting season. The northeast moose population is on the verge of a similar decline.

Even among veteran researchers now out in the field, the massive and majestic animals continue to be a source of awe. And the possibility of their disappearance from Minnesota remains troubling.

“When you watch a collared moose disappear back into the brush you hope the data will help unravel the mortality mystery that is puzzling wildlife managers,” said Erika Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian and leader of the adult moose mortality portion of the research project.