Minnesota Moose Pouplation

Can Minnesota Save Its Beloved Moose? Latest Count Shows Hurdles

Well folks, the annual moose survey results are here from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The moose population in our state is staying fairly consistent at around 3,470 animals.

Not terrible, but also a far cry from those glory days of 2006 when we had a booming 8,840 moose roaming the north woods.

As DNR moose expert Nancy Hansen puts it: “Somewhere between 2009 and 2013 we cut our population in half. So we’ve been hovering around that 3,000 to 4,000 mark for quite some time now.”

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The Arrowhead’s Moose-y Residents

Moose are mostly found up north in the Arrowhead region, so city dwellers may not have seen one in the wild.

The Boundary Waters and areas inland from Lake Superior are pretty much moose central here in Minnesota. I remember an awe-inspiring moose sighting a few years back while camping along the Gunflint Trail – what an experience!

The DNR is definitely keeping a close eye on protecting and reviving prime moose habitat in these core areas. Nancy Hansen says the goal is “to at least maintain our population that we have and not drop any further.”

Easier said than done with the environmental pressures facing moose.

Regrowth Gives Moose a Boost

Wildlife managers are working on creating moose-friendly areas by carrying out larger habitat projects to log, burn, and revitalize older forests.

Moose love new growth and vegetation that sprouts up after fires, storms or tree-cutting. BWCA areas hit by the big Greenwood Fire in 2021 is a moose’s dream home!

The DNR has future plans for 50,000 acre makeovers across the north to create these fresh browsing grounds.

The goal is to improve calf survival rates, which have been a major factor in the population decline, despite healthy cow pregnancy rates.

Moose Face Onslaught of Threats

But even with suitable habitat, our moose are dealing with an onslaught of other threats: climate change, parasites like brain worm and winter ticks, and predators like wolves and bears.

Shorter winters in particular are no friend to moose, allowing more ticks to survive and literally swarm them by the tens of thousands. Seeing pics of a moose caked in ticks is just heartbreaking.

With climate change rapidly altering the north woods environment, it’s going to take a lot of strategic work to preserve a viable moose population long-term.

But DNR biologists assure us they’re committed to this iconic Minnesotan through research, habitat projects and good ol’ fashioned TLC for these magnificent creatures.

So there’s the latest moose update as we head into spring. Let’s keep our flannel-clad fingers crossed for their continued resilience! Because our grand North Star state just wouldn’t be the same without them.

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