DNR: Moose count confirms continuing decline

Collared moose
A successfully collared cow moose turns back toward the capture crew before ambling off into the thicket.
Courtesy Minnesota DNR

Updated: 4:55 p.m. | Posted: 11:45 a.m.

Minnesota's struggling moose population remains low and continues to decline, according to an annual moose population survey released Tuesday by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The survey estimates that there are 3,540 moose, most in northeast Minnesota. Although the moose population appears to have held stable the last few years, adult moose and calves are dying at higher than expected rates, said Lou Cornicelli, the department's wildlife research manager.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

The overall moose population has dropped 60 percent since 2006.

"The trend is what's really important; that's what indicates the population is still in decline," Cornicelli said. "Our best estimate based on the research we're doing is about a 15 percent annual decrease in that population."

The DNR is beginning the third year of a four-year study to try to determine exactly what is causing the state's moose to die so quickly. This week, researchers will place GPS collars on another 36 moose.

"You can't have a high percentage of adults dying, and a low percentage of calves being recruited into the population, and then expect that population to increase," Cornicelli said.