Fond du Lac Band cancels moose hunt

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has cancelled a planned moose hunt this fall.

The decision will give scientists more time to try to figure out what's causing the moose's rapid decline, band chairwoman Karen Diver said.

Earlier this year the Fond du Lac Band announced plans for a hunt of up to 25 bull moose on off-reservation land in northeastern Minnesota, where the band retains hunting rights. That move came after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources cancelled the state's moose hunt after data showed Minnesota's moose population had dropped 35 percent in one year.

DNR officials asked the band to reconsider the hunt. Diver, though, said the DNR request didn't cause the change of heart.

"Regardless of the state's decision, the band will make the decision that it feels is in the best interests of not only our community but the environment as well," she said Friday.

Diver says The Grand Portage and Bois Forte Ojibwe bands have also cancelled their hunts.

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The DNR doesn't understand all the reasons behind the moose population drop, agency spokesman Chris Niskanen said.

"We know that hunting is not the cause of the moose decline," he said. "But the agency believes it's important to eliminate any moose mortality source, such as hunting, that we have some control over."

The DNR recognizes the importance of moose and moose hunting to the Chippewa bands, appreciates the decisions not to go ahead with hunts and will continue to consult with the bands, he added.

Officials still view it as unwise to hunt moose until there's a recovery, Niskanen added. "We're not even sure if there will be a recovery."