Habitat improvement part of effort to reverse moose decline

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Volunteers are working to make the north woods more comfy for the dwindling number of moose who live there.

With northeastern Minnesota's moose population less than half what it once was, groups that have been working to improve moose habitat in the region will highlight what they're doing during events on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Nearly $3 million in state funding is helping the work, which the AP says includes prescribed burns, selective logging, and tree planting.

The project's lead researcher, Ron Moen of the University of Minnesota Duluth, explains that fire and logging clear room in the forest for the new growth that moose need.

State officials authorized money for the project in 2013 and it runs through 2016. It's led by the Minnesota Moose Habitat Collaborative with help from The Nature Conservancy.

UMD's Moen says the project also involves tracking which habitat restoration methods work best and how cost-effective they are.

Researchers in the arrowhead region hope to avoid a repeat of what occurred in northwestern Minnesota, where a moose herd that numbered more than 4,000 a few decades ago is down to fewer than 100 animals today.

Scientists studying reasons for the decline suspect parasites, disease, warmer temperatures, and other changes to the forest may be factors, the AP says.

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