Preliminary figures show hunters registered 45 bull moose during northeastern Minnesota's 2012 moose season.
The Department of Natural Resources issued 87 permits for the bulls-only season, down from 96 in 2011. Wildlife managers say 52 percent of parties were successful, compared with 58 percent last year when state-licensed hunters took 53 moose. The sport season ran Sept. 29-Oct. 14, while a separate tribal season runs through Dec. 31.
This year's harvest was five below the 50 the DNR projected last spring when it decided to proceed despite a sharp decline in the state's moose population. It was estimated last winter at 4,230, down 14 percent from 2011 and less than half the 2006 estimate. Wildlife managers say the main reasons likely include parasites, diseases and warmer weather, rather than hunting.