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Moose population drops so dramatically that Minnesota suspends hunting season

The DNR’s January aerial survey showed there are 2,760 moose in the state, down from 4,230 a year ago.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials  have suspended the state’s 2013 moose hunting season, after an aerial survey showed a dramatic decline in the state’s moose population.

An aerial survey in January showed only 2,760 moose, down from 4,230 in 2012. As recently as 2006, the population estimate was 8,840.

The state’s previous limited hunts didn’t cause the problem, but suspending the hunt “is reasonable and responsible in light of latest data and an uncertain future,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

He also said:

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“The state’s moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter. This is further and definitive evidence the population is not healthy. It reaffirms the conservation community’s need to better understand why this iconic species of the north is disappearing from our state.”

To help understand the decline, wildlife researchers have begun fitting 100 moose in northeastern Minnesota with GPS tracking and data collection collars. So far, 92 moose have been fitted with collars in the Grand Marais, Ely and Two Harbors areas. Officials hope studying the collared moose will help determine ways to stop the decline.