Minnesota's moose population continues to fall

A moose near the BWCA
A moose wades in a small pond in Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minn. The annual aerial survey released Thursday by the Department of Natural Resources shows the state's moose population dropped from an estimated 4,900 in 2011 to 4,230 in 2012.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

In the face of a declining moose population, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it will reconsider having a moose hunt in the fall.

This winter's aerial survey of moose showed a few positive signs. More cows were accompanied by calves than the year before and more bulls were available to breed with cows.

But overall the moose numbers are declining, and the DNR doesn't know why. The state's moose population dropped from an estimated 4,900 in 2011 to 4,230 in 2012. The population was estimated at 8,840 in 2006 and has been declining since then.

The agency says the hunt does not drive the decline — the bulls-only hunt in recent years removes only 2 percent from the fall population.

But biologists are keeping a close eye on the bull-per-cow ratio, and it is hovering at levels that trigger a halt in the hunt, according to the state's moose plan.

Most adult moose die from disease or parasites.

The DNR says it will announce a decision on the hunt in coming weeks.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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