After adjusting for sampling and sightability, we estimated the population in northeastern Minnesota at 3,030 [or somewhere in the range of] 2,320–4,140 [based on a] 90% confidence interval [given several] statistical uncertaint[ies] inherent in aerial wildlife surveys … Past aerial survey and research results have indicated that the long-term trend of the population in northeastern Minnesota has been declining since 2006. The current population estimate is 65% less than the estimate in 2006 and the declining linear trend during the past decade remains statistically significant. However, the leveling since 2012 persists, and … the trend from 2012 to 2018 is not declining. While this recent short-term trend (7-year) is noteworthy, it applies only to the existing survey estimates, and does not forecast the future trajectory of the population.
While it appears the population has stabilized in the short-term, the long-term decline of the moose in Minnesota continues to make this a race against time.
MN DNR research results show contributors to the moose decline include, but may not be limited to, the environmental influences of: wolf and white-tail deer populations, parasites (such as winter ticks and brainworm), less frequent forest fires and logging on public lands, and climate change. Factors best laid out by this February 7, 2016, Minneapolis Star Tribune article by Josephine Marcotty. However, implementing management practices that would promote a healthier moose herd are also subject to, but not limited to, the social pressures from local landowners, wildlife enthusiasts, hunters, private business, and local economies and cultures. Further elaboration on these factors can found in a February 16, 2018, Minnesota Public Radio News article by Dan Kraker. Indeed, this struggle goes much deeper than simply saving the moose. This permeates all facets of Northern Minnesota culture.
We recently received a survey from Colorado State University on behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies requesting feedback “about public perceptions of issues concerning the management of fish and wildlife in your state.” While the correspondence states it is “part of a national survey effort,” several questions in the survey itself are directed at specific concerns within Minnesota. And, while it is obvious that surveys were customized to address specific issues within each state, one specific set of questions made me take special notice of this particular survey:
The interactions between wolves, moose, and deer are complex. Moose are known to die from diseases that white-tail deer carry, and wolves prey on both species. Please let us know how you feel about management of these three species in Minnesota….