Minnesota moose die from wolves, ticks, abandonment and disease
biggest and most high-tech research study ever
conducted on moose provide a rare glimpse into
the harsh life they face in the wild and help explain
why they are rapidly disappearing from
were killed by bears and wolves. A number
were abandoned by their mothers; one drowned.
Three adults died from massive infestations of
winter ticks, and others succumbed to deer-
parasites and infections.
about 150 collared moose is not enough to
trends or to provide solutions in how to help
rebound. But it's clear, they said, that more
than is normal.
one summer, said Glenn DelGiudice, the
researcher for the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources who is running the calf
of the study.
their first winter.
percent in the
first year of life to maintain their population,
Carstensen, who is running the adult research
. If that rises to 30 percent in the winter, as
"that's not sustainable," she said.
one-third last year, double the rate of previous
in January indicated that 2,760 moose were
from 4,230 in 2012.
corner of the
state peaked at 8,840, but by then moose
y largely disappeared from the northwestern
corner of Minnesota, where they had long
beenpart of thelandscape.
understand why moose are dying in such
So far, the project has been funded for two
with $1.2 million from the state, tribes and
University of Minnesota Duluth.
from the state in part to determine how
an impact global warming may have
on the moose population.
measure ambient and body temperatures
whether heat stress from higher average
summer temperatures is playing a role
in their demise.
but none actually have provided the biological
evidence, DelGiudice said.
collared 103 adult moose with GPS devices
their every movement.
show "CSI," a signal alerts crews who rush
in and recover
the carcass to determine its cause of death.
include staff from the DNR, the U.S. Forest
and the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage
bands of Ojibwe.
the crews that
the females were bedding down to give birth,
trained crews that do the same work in western
states and Alaska carefully moved in to collar
50 newborn calves.
think of, one frustrating and unexpected result
of the calf collaring is that
11 died, said DelGiudice.
when a mother stepped on it during the attempt
to collar it
and one died for unknown reasons.
experts who have done such collaring elsewhere,
above the handlers on the ground to keep the
mothers at bay. In one
case, the pilot had to nudge a mother moose
away with the helicopter strut.
for distances," DelGiudice said.
their collars, leaving a total of 34 for the researchers
to follow. By the end
of the summer, 24 of them had died. Four were
bears and another 16 most likely were killed by
wolves, though researchers aren't positive about
four of those. One drowned, two were abandoned
by their mothers well after being collared and one
died for unknown reasons.
are good, DelGiudice said.
eight were direct kills and two died from infections
that developed from wounds, Carstensen said.
Three apparently healthy moose died for unknown
deaths. Moose that are sickened or weak are
easy prey for wolves, which then eat the
evidence of what caused the decline in the
first place, she said.
demise, by sheer chance, was witnessed by Amanda
McGraw and others in a group of graduate students
who were doing moose
habitat research near Isabella, Minn., during the first
week of September.
moved in to get a closer look and take photos. They
crawled through the long grass on their bellies, and
only as they got close did they realize that the moose
was sick and injured.
where it couldn't get up.
finish their work. When the crew arrive two hours
later, the moose
already had been eaten by wolves that most likely
lurking in a nearby patch of poplars waiting for its
crawling through the grass she might have come
nose to nose with