Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Minnesota Moose Population Down

Northeastern Minnesotas moose population
continues to decline

An aerial survey conducted in January estimates that the number of
moose in northeastern Minnesota increased from 6,600 in 2007 to 7,600 in
2008, but the long-term trend suggests that Minnesota?s moose herd
remains in decline, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources (DNR).

At first glance, the raw numbers appear to suggest that the
population has increased, said Dr. Mark Lenarz, DNR wildlife
researcher. The margin of error, however, overlapped between years,
which means that there was no significant change in the number of moose
this year.

Based solely on the survey results, I would be hesitant to infer a
declining population, he said. But the long-term population trend
suggests otherwise, and there are other factors that significantly
impact moose population.
Aerial surveys to estimate the moose population have been conducted
every year since 1960. But wildlife researchers implemented a new
methodology in 2005. Lenarz said statistical comparisons of data
collected from 2005 to 2008 indicate that the population increase was
not as significant as it appears.

When nonhunting factors such as disease, bull and cow pairings, cow
pregnancy rates, calf survival and predation are considered, indexes
used to estimate herd viability drop below the levels at which
researchers would like to see them.
Lenarz said a study of radio-collared moose in northeastern Minnesota
shows that non-hunting mortality has averaged 21 percent during the last
six years. Elsewhere in North America, that rate generally falls between
8 and 12 percent.
Biologically, issuing 200-250 permits a year for a bull-only hunt
doesn't negatively impact Minnesota?s moose population, said Lou
Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. What directly impacts
moose population is the cow and calf survival rates.

Minnesota is the only state in the central region of the lower 48
states with a significant moose population. The moose is the largest
member of the deer family.

No comments: