Identifying Critical Habitats for Moose in Northeastern Minnesota
Moose are one of Minnesota's most prized wildlife species. Recently observed increases in mortality rates amongst some moose in northeastern Minnesota have led to concern that the population there may be starting a decline like that seen in the northwestern part of the state, where moose populations fell from over 4,000 to fewer than 100 in less than 20 years. Researchers from the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota - Duluth, are using this appropriation to determine what factors may be responsible for increases in moose mortality rates in northeastern Minnesota in order to determine if it is possible to slow or prevent significant, long-term decline in the moose population there.
OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
Moose are one of Minnesota's most prized wildlife species. In less than 20 years moose in northwestern Minnesota declined from over 4,000 to fewer than 100. The northeastern Minnesota moose population, which had over 7,000 moose until 2009, is in the middle of what appears to be a similar decline. Higher mortality in radiocollared moose is correlated with warmer temperatures. We used satellite collars to track moose in northeastern Minnesota and collected GPS locations day and night 365 days a year. Over 2 million moose locations and activity data were obtained. Specific habitats needed by moose were identified using the satellite collars. Spatial distribution and availability of habitat types has guided identification of specific sites for enhancement, protection, or acquisition. Habitat guidelines and recommendations help private and public land managers provide the best possible habitat for moose.
The project was part of a coordinated effort involving many resource management agencies to determine if it is possible to slow or prevent a decline in the northeastern MN moose population. Public outreach and education was accomplished with a website that provides information on moose in Minnesota and allowed the public to report almost 2,000 moose sightings. The Minnesota Zoo developed an on-site informational kiosk about Minnesota moose and zoo educators developed a curriculum for teacher workshops to be held both at the zoo and at the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center near Duluth. We gave over 70 moose presentations during the project, and continue to give presentations now.
The project combined research and education to increase public understanding of Minnesota moose now and in the future. Results and data from this project are still being used in current projects. We expect that there will be at least 2 more M.S. theses, 5 peer-reviewed publications, and additional NRRI Technical Reports developed from the data collected in this project that will be used to improve moose management. We also continue to work with the MN DNR adult and calf moose mortality projects using data and expertise obtained during this moose research project, and we have an ongoing collaboration with the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley with a deer-moose parasite project and a moose-wolf predation project.
PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
The project has had relatively wide dissemination, both in formal settings and in working with DNR and other resource management agencies to implement recommendations arising from the project. We gave over 70 presentations to the public about this project. We also developed a moose website that is used extensively by both biologists and the public. We will continue to update this website in the future.
In addition, because of the interest in moose, the project has received attention from the media, with newspaper and magazine articles, and radio and television interviews. Among the media outlets are the Duluth News Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, local TV stations, Minnesota Public Radio, Duluth News Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Los Angeles Times, BBC in Ontario and Newfoundland, Sweden Public Radio, Toronto Star, and others.
Although not limited to this project, Moen was also asked by the DNR to present on the current status of moose in Minnesota at the 2014 Roundtable, and also gave testimony to the Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee on February 25, 2014.
Finally, there are several peer-reviewed publications, theses, and technical reports that have arisen from work conducted on this project. Some of these publications are currently being peer-reviewed. We expect to produce several additional publications and theses from the data obtained in this project.
$507,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the Natural Resources Research Institute to identify critical habitats for moose, develop best management habitat protection practices, and conduct educational outreach in cooperation with the Minnesota Zoo. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2013, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".