Managing or Mismanaging the Moose Population on the Gunflint Trail

     Everyone knows we love our moose on the Gunflint Trail.  It’s part of the Gunflint Trail logo and there’s even a moose on the water tower as you head up the hill out of Grand Marais,  All of us resort owners put moose on our hats, t-shirts and souvenirs and our guests eat it up.  Seeing a moose is the highlight of a trip for most folks and we’re lucky we can usually help them find one.

     The moose population is on a decline in Minnesota.  There’s been alot of time, energy and money spent on moose research in the state of Minnesota and they still have no clue what is happening to the moose population.  One thing they don’t consider is the increasing wolf population.  The wolves are killing moose every year, just how many we aren’t certain. 

     Another thing the DNR is reluctant to do is to stop the Minnesota Moose Hunt.  On the Gunflint Trail the success rate for the moose hunt has been close to 100% every year.  The moose here do not fear humans and are comfortable with people stopping to gaze or take pictures of them.  Little do they know when hunting season rolls around the shot of a gun isn’t as friendly as the shot of a camera.  Why does the DNR continue to let healthy moose be taken each year during a moose hunt?  It doesn’t do much for the economy of the Gunflint Trail except to hurt it by taking away our icon. 

     You can let the DNR know what you think about the management or mismanagement of the Minnesota moose population by visiting their website.

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Wildlife managers hope a new moose management and research plan will keep the majestic mammals roaming northern Minnesota for generations to come.

The draft seeks to bolster research into what’s killing Minnesota’s moose faster than they can reproduce and to find out what can be done, if anything.

The proposal includes measures to restrict deer population densities in northeastern Minnesota because they carry brain worm parasites fatal to moose, a ban on recreational deer feeding in the primary moose range to avoid boosting deer numbers, new limits on moose hunting and steps to improve habitat.

The draft, which was released Monday and includes recommendations from an 18-member advisory committee, is open for public comment through Sept. 30. The final version is due later this fall.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates about 4,900 moose live in northeastern Minnesota, down 11 percent from last year and down from more than 8,000 a decade ago. Northwestern Minnesota’s moose population has crashed to fewer than 100 today. An aerial survey in the northeast last winter showed only 24 calves per 100 cows, the lowest ever recorded.

Experts still aren’t fully sure why. Some combination of higher temperatures, parasites, deer, disease and other factors is suspected.

Lou Cornicelli, the agency’s big game program coordinator, told the Duluth News Tribune there appears to be no magic cure. He also said funding for more research remains a major hurdle.

“This isn’t a linear deal where we can say, `If we do that, this will happen,”‘ he said. “We don’t know how moose will react, or even if they will.”

The DNR already has moved to cut hunting permits in half, from 213 bulls-only licenses last year to just 105 this year.

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