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Dayton orders DNR to stop collaring moose, saying it causes too many deaths

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Gov. Mark Dayton ordered state environment officers to stop radio collaring moose as part of a $1.2 million research project, saying it has led to moose deaths and calves being abandoned.

Dayton issued the executive order Tuesday, saying the Department of Natural Resources' practice of collaring adults and calves with GPS tracking devices could be harming the animals rather than helping them, saying it had led to "unintended and unanticipated mortality of moose."

"I respect that researchers are trying to understand why our moose population is declining," he told the Star Tribune. "However, their methods of collaring are causing too many of the moose deaths they seek to prevent."

MPR News reports the DNR has been using the tracking collars since 2013, as it studies why the moose population has been falling in Minnesota.

MPR notes 70 percent of all young moose already do not survive their first winter in the state.

As for collared moose calves that were part of the DNR project, 20 percent ended up getting abandoned by their mothers.

The Star Tribune notes that as a result of this, abandonment is now the second most common cause of death among young moose – behind only death by predators.

A recent survey estimated there are 3,450 moose in Minnesota currently, down from 4,350 in 2014 and significantly lower than the estimated 8,840 in the state in 2006.

The Associated Press said the DNR had intended to collar about 50 newborn moose next month, but that this would have been the last time if it had led to more calf deaths.

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