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First results in DNR study of dead moose show wolves a factor

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As the Minnesota DNR studies what's killing the state's moose herd, early results suggest wolves are on the list of culprits.

But researchers are also looking at parasites, disease, and competition for food from the state's growing deer herd as other possible explanations for a dramatic drop in moose numbers.

The DNR study involved tranquilizing and collaring 111 moose in northeastern Minnesota. The Duluth News Tribune reports that so far six of the animals have died, two of them after wolf attacks.

The deaths of the other four are attributed to trauma from the process of being captured, tranquilized, and collared.

The Grand Portage band of Chippewa is involved in a similar study in which 19 moose have been equipped with GPS collars. One of those animals was killed by wolves, although a tribal researcher tells the News Tribune the moose appeared to have been weakened by pneumonia.

The gray wolf only recently came off the endangered species list. The first state-regulated wolf hunting season was held last fall, but Minnesota lawmakers are debating whether to suspend wolf hunting for five years.

Separately, the DNR has embarked on a wolf census of sorts -- hoping to get a reasonably accurate count of how many wolves are in the state.

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