Skip to main content

Moose study finds calves dying at rapid pace

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A study launched last winter to help determine why the state's moose population is declining so rapidly is finding a higher than expected mortality rate among calves.

Previous studies have shown that about half of all moose calves die within their first year of life, but young moose being studied in northeast Minnesota are dying at a faster pace.

The Duluth News Tribune reports 71 percent of calves in the study have died during their first four months of life and the remaining calves still have a winter to survive ahead of them.

“The very rough estimate in Minnesota is that we have been down to about 28 percent survival in recent years. But we still have seven months to go and we’re already there. That’s not good,” Glen DelGiudice, lead moose researcher for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told the newspaper.

The moose population in northeast Minnesota, the primary area of study, was cut in half over the past three years. Without intervention, researchers say the population could disappear entirely by 2020.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources captured and collared 49 moose calves and more than 100 adult moose for the study. Implant transmitters notify researchers via text message or email when a moose dies, along with coordinates for finding the carcass and a log of vital statistics.

For moose calves, the major cause of death is predators. The Duluth News Tribune says 16 calves were killed by wolves and four were taken by bears.

Right after capture by the DNR, 11 died. Most were abandoned by their mothers.

DelGiudice doesn't think predators are what caused the steep decline in the moose population, but they're having an impact.

“When we had 9,000 moose and the same number of wolves, the number they took was far less significant and likely not impacting the population,” DelGiudice said. “But with fewer than 3,000 moose now, and roughly the same number of wolves, that predator-to-prey ratio has changed."

Researchers will be watching closely to see how the remaining 10 calves fare this winter.

As for the adult moose, 19 have died, which is also more than expected.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Next Up

Marcus Foligno

Foligno's OT winner gives Wild fans a happy Hockey Day

A slow start gave way to the Wild's fifth win in the past six games.

snow

Winter weather advisory issued as Saturday snow arrives

Not huge totals expected, but any snow will likely impact travel.

Wilf

Report: Ryan Poles is Vikings' 'top choice' for general manager

Poles was one of two finalists revealed on Friday.

Payton Willis

Willis carries shorthanded Gophers to beat Rutgers

The senior scored a career-high 32 points to end a four-game losing streak.

MARCUS ALEXANDER STEICHEN

Charges: St. Paul man had sexual contact 'multiple times' with 12-year-old girl

Marcus Steichen, 21, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Charges: Mom killed infant son just weeks after getting him back from foster care

The 10-month-old died in her care in Brooklyn Park last April.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Arrests made following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Authorities searched two St. Cloud apartments Friday morning.

potatoes 2

Minnesota's 'frozen potato freeway' closure attracts plenty of comment

It was, let's face it, a very Minnesotan reason for a freeway closure.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 9.07.54 AM

U of M fraternity raises money for chef's knee surgery

The GoFundMe has raised around $1,700 of its $5,000 goal.

unsplash restaurant cashier register COVID face mask - crop

7 restaurant, bar groups sue Minneapolis over dining vaccine mandate

"Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns..." the lawsuit said.

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 7.47.53 AM

Woman fatally shot in St. Paul's North End neighborhood

It's the fourth homicide so far this year in St. Paul.

Wild

Wild flip the script, dominate Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman scored twice to earn the first game of a back-to-back.

Related