Minnesota’s moose population shows signs of stabilizing after a decline

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s moose population is showing signs of stabilizing after a steep decline, but conservation officials said Monday that the majestic creatures of the North aren’t out of the woods yet.

The new annual estimate from the Department of Natural Resources put northeastern Minnesota’s moose population at 3,710. Because of the difficulty of counting the animals, which is done via aerial surveys, that’s considered statistically unchanged from the estimate of 4,020 a year ago.

DNR moose project leader Glenn DelGiudice said the results don’t indicate that moose are recovering.

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“While it is encouraging to see that the decline in the population since 2012 has not been as steep,” he said in a statement, “the apparent stability does not allow us to forecast the direction of the population’s trajectory into the future.”

Northeastern Minnesota’s moose population peaked around 8,840 in 2006. According to the DNR, reasons for the fall included infections, parasites and other health issues that kill moose and predispose them to being preyed on by wolves.

The DNR also said its moose mortality research project shows that survival of adult moose has remained between 85 and 88 percent from 2014 to 2016, a bit higher than the average of 81 percent during 2002 to 2008, and 81 percent in 2013. Research data have indicated modestly higher calf survival in the past couple of years compared with 2013, which the DNR said may be contributing to the population’s recent apparent stability.

Moose have largely disappeared from northwestern Minnesota. The state’s only significant moose population remains in the northeast.