Declining Moose Population Mystery Solved

The Minnesota Moose Mystery has been solved. The declining population is due to Big Foot and corn!

I’m not a moose expert or moose researcher. I just really like to see moose on the Gunflint Trail. What I’m about to say isn’t based on any facts just my thoughts.  There are facts involved but if you are easily offended or your name is Glen DelGiudice then you should stop reading now.

Moose calves are being killed by wolves. Hunters also contributed to the decline of healthy moose in Minnesota. I’ve known this for awhile. Is it a little too little and a little too late for the Minnesota moose population?

When lead moose researcher for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the following I fear for the remaining moose population…

From the Duluth News and Tribune. “DelGiudice noted that Minnesota had a thriving moose population 10 to 15 years ago when the state’s moose range had roughly the same number of wolves. Wolves clearly aren’t the cause of the steep decline in moose population, he said. But they may now be helping to push the decline a little faster.

“When we had 9,000 moose and the same number of wolves, the number they took was far less significant and likely not impacting the population,” DelGiudice said. “But with fewer than 3,000 moose now, and roughly the same number of wolves, that predator-to-prey ratio has changed. They (wolves) aren’t the driving factor, but they may be having an impact.”

Minnesota isn’t Isle Royale where the moose and wolves are confined to a small area and surrounded by Lake Superior.  Wolves can and do travel.  Their population may be the same but what about the population density in specific areas? Specifically the wolf population in Northeastern Minnesota and around the Gunflint Trail.

In 2008 the Minnesota DNR put together a Moose Advisory Committee that comprised of something like 17 men and 1 woman. Yet it was a well rounded and diverse group of people of all special interests.(sarcasm)  It was formed to discuss the decline of the moose population in Minnesota. The deer population was discussed as well as moose hunting and wolves were mentioned but since the wolves were a protected species they weren’t allowed to spend much time on wolves. If they were would we still be facing the drastic decline in our moose numbers?

With the delisting of the wolf population the Minnesota DNR was able to hold a wolf hunt. I don’t like to hear about wolves being hunted but I also don’t like to hear about the declining moose population.  Would any of this be an issue if people weren’t allowed to feed deer?

Deer are migratory animals and in the winter they migrate to where the food is.  On the Gunflint Trail that’s Gunflint Lake where corn is fed to deer throughout the winter.  While it’s fun to watch deer fight over food at a feeder I don’t think deer are anything special.  You can probably see a deer in half of the United States they are so common.

The wolves aren’t dumb.  They too go to where their food source is and over the years they have learned there is easy picking at Gunflint Lake. Story after story is told of deer being taken down by a pack of wolves on the ice or on a ski trail.  Blood and deer carcasses can be found on the ski trails nearby.  These wolves come very close to dwellings and pets.

We aren’t supposed to feed the bears in Yellowstone or the seagulls or geese in Grand Marais.  Why not? Because it isn’t natural. So why do we allow the feeding of deer on the Gunflint Trail?

Maybe if the deer had to go to the North Shore in the winter then the wolves would follow them.  When we first came to the Gunflint Trail 20 years ago there were moose everywhere and you couldn’t hardly see a deer. You hardly ever saw a wolf.  Now wolves walk along side the road like a dog on a walk and deer are getting scarcer by the year.

I could be wrong. Maybe it would make absolutely no difference in the moose population if there weren’t so many wolves around.  But of the 49 radio collared moose calves 16 of them were killed by wolves.  11 of the calves died immediately after their capture but according to DelGiudice,  “Most of those were caused by the cows abandoning their calves, not from stress or harm.” REALLY?

Let’s just come right out and say it, “This is our LEAD RESEARCHER? There are only 10 of the radio collared moose calves left and maybe 5 will make it through their first year, then again maybe none will.  If this is the case then it’s no wonder our population is declining.

What do I know? But if the DNR is as diligent in the pursuit of what is happening to our moose population as they are to updating their research page(last updated May 9th) then our moose haven’t got a chance.

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