The moose population in Minnesota has been cut in half since a species survey in 2006 and researchers are launching a study to find out why.
The Associated Press reports the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials plan to capture 100 adult moose and 50 calves in northeastern Minnesota later this month. The animals will be fitted with tracking collars and mortality implant transmitters will be put into their digestive tracts.
Wildlife veterinarian Erika Butler says more moose are dying in what should be their prime years and in seasons that are typically favorable to their health. Moose can live up to be 20 years old, but many die much sooner. Previous studies have ruled out predation and hunting as the primary cause, according to the DNR.
The implants will notify researchers via text message when a moose dies along with coordinates for finding the carcass and a log of vital statistics.
Researches say the study could also shed light on health threats to other species including humans.
Much of the money for the $1.6 million study comes from a trust fund devoted to environment and natural resources programs.