Minnesota Moose Habitat Collaborative - Phase III
$1,938,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources for an agreement with the
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to restore and
enhance public forest lands in the northern forest
region for moose habitat. A list of proposed land
restoration and enhancements must be provided as
part of the required accomplishment plan.
Healthy populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - The collaborative will continue the work represented in the UMD report and will enhance habitat for healthy populations. .
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA), in collaboration with county, state, federal, tribal, university and non-governmental organizational (NGO) partners, seeks to continue the successful work of the Moose Habitat Collaborative (Collaborative) by improving nearly 10,000 acres of foraging habitat for moose in northeast Minnesota. The project builds on the Collaborative’s previous efforts to enhance forest habitat by increasing stand complexity and production while maintaining thermal components of the landscape with variable enhancement methods. Partial and intermediate harvests will increase the occurrence of early successional forest patches, providing abundant quality foraging opportunities and enhancing landscape-level habitat heterogeneity.
Moose have an iconic status in Minnesota and are a critical component of the cultural identity, hunting heritage and economy of northern Minnesota. Over the past decade, Minnesota’s moose population has dramatically fallen, from an estimated 8,840 in 2006 to this year’s estimate of 3,710. Due to the declining population, the Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish a Moose Advisory Committee (MAC) to make recommendations to form the basis of a Moose Management and Research Plan (Moose Plan).In 2011, DNR released the Moose Plan, which incorporated the recommendations of the MAC. This included extending to the Moose Plan the strategic vision of the MAC that guided them through their recommendation process:"Moose have intrinsic value and are recognized for their importance to Minnesota. To the greatest extent possible, moose shall be managed for ecological sustainability, hunting, and viewing opportunities."The importance of moose to Minnesota is evidenced by the broad range of partners in this Collaborative, whose proposal aligns completely with the strategic vision set forth by the MAC and in the Moose Plan.Project partners are:Federal: Superior National Forest (SNF)State: DNRTribal: 1854 Treaty Authority; Fond du Lac BandCounties: Cook, Lake; St. LouisUniversity:University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute (UMD)Organizations:MDHA; the Nature Conservancy; Ruffed Grouse Society; Wildlife Management InstituteCollaborative partners will work together to choose sites with forest stands that are partially harvested, decadent, poorly stocked with trees, or provide such poor browse condition that they are of little or no benefit to moose. Selective, low intensity planting of conifers on some parcels will eventually lead to more cover interspersed with browse. In the longer term, establishment of conifers will provide thermal and escape cover. Ultimately, this project will encourage a heterogeneous habitat matrix resulting in a healthier landscape that is more resilient, providing for an ecologically diverse and balanced landscape condition with greater benefit to moose and a number of species of greatest conservation need.In a draft technical report on Phase I of this project entitled, “Site Verification of Moose Habitat Restoration,” (UMD Report, attached), Ronald Moen, Ph.D. and John Frisch, M.S., evaluated the response of browse species and moose to habitat management. The report indicated that moose increased use of areas with habitat restoration and enhancement, whether the habitat restoration and enhancement was small-scale or large-scale. Similar conclusions were reached by Christina Maley in a 2017 report for the 1854 Treaty Authority (attached).The project has enabled moose habitat management on smaller units in areas where large scale management is not possible. The habitat management has resulted in moose use even though these areas have been classified as low moose density in the aerial moose survey.Collaborative partners now seek to enhance nearly 10,000 additional acres of moose foraging habitat by brush shearing, prescribed burning, selective planting and through timber harvest (funded by partners).