Late last month Minnesota Department of Natural Resources researchers collared 49 moose calves within hours of their birth, the Grand Forks Herald reports. Part of a larger study trying to solve Minnesota’s high moose mortality rate, the collared calves were born to collared mothers, a fact that allowed researchers to find them quickly after birth, the article says.
Results have come quickly, perhaps too quickly. Researchers knew that over half of all moose calves die within their first year. But already 22 of the calves, nearly half, have been found dead, mostly from predation by wolves and bears.
The study revealed other surprises. Of the moose that gave birth last month, 58 percent had twins, which was a higher rate than the researchers expected. They also found that the calves started eating plants earlier than had been previously thought.
The article says that the high adult death rate is the big issue in Minnesota, but a low rate of survival for calves is another concern. The 22 necropsies that will be performed on the dead moose calves should shed light on the issue.
More details in the Grand Forks Herald article, here.
Photo: A moose calf, although not from this study. By Leroy Anderson, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Loss of early successional habitat, more wolves, and increased exposure to brainworm — those are the early theories on why the Minnesota moose population is plummeting. And that’s a whole lot of inference from just two dead moose.
The Duluth News Tribune has an update on the moose study begun by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in January. The DNR tagged 111 moose and planned to follow them for five years — deploying a team to investigate whenever one of the moose died. (We covered it here.)
So far six moose have died, the article says. Four of those deaths have been pinned on capture-related mortality. The percentage is about average for moose captures, the article says.
The two other moose were killed by wolves. The article reports on another researcher in conducting a separate study who found that one of his wolf-killed moose had pneumonia.
There are many more details about the early days of the study in the article. Read the Duluth News Tribune article here.
Photo: A moose being collared, but not necessarily for this project. Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ list of endangered, threatened and special concern species is due to get its first update since 1996, a DNR press release reports. While 302 Minnesota species will be affected, moose are getting all the attention.
The iconic north woods animal is proposed for listing as a species of special concern. The designation reflects a 50 percent decline in the number of moose in the state since 2005, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. There are now about 4,000 moose in the state.
What is causing the rapid decline is still a bit of a mystery, but a combination of disease, parasites and a warming climate appear to be the causes, the Star-Tribune notes.
CBC News reports University of Minnesota Duluth biologist Ron Moen as saying that wildlife managers in Ontario should keep an eye out for their own moose. The southern part of western Ontario shares a border with Minnesota.
As for why the gray wolf’s delisting in the other direction, from special concern to not on the list, is not receiving much attention, that’s because this year’s wolf hunting season (and the federal delisting) packed more punch than this proposed delisting.
Read the Star-Tribune article here.
Read the Minn. DNR press release here.
Get more details about the list changes, here.
Photo: Moose, courtesy MN DNR