Beautifully Executed- Sarcasm and Moose Recapture


     Seems like a strange combination of words to use together don’t you think?  Since when has execution ever been beautiful?  That’s what the director of biology for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa was quoted as saying after having to recapture eight moose in the Grand Portage Reservation because collars that had been placed on them just 11 days earlier weren’t working. 


     Is it global warming that is killing the moose in Northeastern Minnesota or is it something else?  They say warm weather stresses a moose but I wonder how stressful it is to have a helicopter buzzing above your head for miles until a net falls from the sky on top of you.  Struggling to escape from pursuers on foot with a net over your body can’t be real fun either.  Lucky for one moose he was tranquilized because he couldn’t be netted, I’m sure that eased his stress.

     Sorry for the sarcasm folks but there are other things going on with the moose population in Northeastern Minnesota besides global warming.  One of which is a thriving wolf population in part due to an out of control deer population.  

     For years folks around Gunflint Lake have fed deer to help the small herd make it through the cold winters.  This herd experienced an explosive growth some years back and the deer population was out of control.  The DNR has attempted to regulate the deer population by imposing different hunting laws but the wolves have been far more efficient.  So efficient in fact the wolf population has dramatically increased and many of them have moved in closer to the folks around Gunflint Lake in search of their next meal.


     These same folks who once enjoyed watching the deer eat corn out of their hands are watching wolves take down those same deer on the ice right in front of their faces.  They have even had mangy wolves hanging around their places; one of which was "beautifully executed" by a DNR official because it was acting funny.   

     We wonder why animals act funny?  In the case of the wolf and deer it’s called a buffet.  What wolf wouldn’t want to hang out near a large herd of corn fed deer?  It sounds smart and easy to me.  When I’m hungry I usually hang out in the kitchen, it only makes sense.  And for the moose.  I guess I would act kind of strange and perhaps get stressed after being pursued and handled by humans twice in the same month. 

     What are we doing?  Is it helping or hurting?  If there’s that much money for studying the declining moose population why not just clone a moose and put the ones we kill during hunting back out there and then we can call it science? 

     Sorry folks, sometimes I just don’t get it.


     AP Press GRAND PORTAGE, Minn. – A project to follow moose and study their habitat is back on track in Minnesota after researchers had to recapture 8 moose because of a glitch in their tracking collars.


Dr. Seth Moore, the director of biology for the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, says the people working on the study had to recapture the moose on Feb. 12 because the collars were not transmitting the crucial GPS tracking information to a research satellite.


The collars transmit air temperature and GPS position as well as a radio frequency so researchers on the ground can track the moose. A $200,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds the study, which runs until 2012. The Service says the study will "identify moose habitat, quantify moose response to temperature changes, make habitat management recommendations, identify habitats used for calving and share results throughout the year. The tribe will match the $199,999 federal grant with $164,315."


Moore says researchers are trying to see how moose are dealing with warming temperatures. He says when the temperature rises above 20 degrees F in the winter and above 57 degrees F in the summer it stresses moose. The study will try to identify where moose go when temperatures are above those thresholds and then to protect those habitats. Moore says with global temperatures on the rise, more and more of the moose’s traditional habitats fall into these higher temperature ranges.


Moore says they first collared nine moose on Feb. 1 on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation. When researchers went to look at the data from the six cows and three bulls, the GPS information was not coming in from eight of the collars. That meant they had to come up with a quick solution to recapture those eight animals and fix the glitch.


Moore says they were able to net seven of the moose and darted the eighth when it would not leave the cover of the trees. The recapture had to be planned in a week, and Moore says it was a miracle that it worked since the first capture involved a spotting plane, a helicopter, veterinarians, and biologists and took more than six months to plan.


Moore also says they darted the moose during the first capture, but the company the researchers hired for the second attempt preferred to net the moose instead.


He says all nine collars are now working fine. They will capture the moose again in about a year to remove the collars and download additional data and then the collars will be put back on these moose or a different group for one final year when the study will end.