Conservation. The concept of conserving our natural resources is not a new idea among sportsmen and women. Hunters, fishermen and those that find solace and enjoyment in Minnesota’s vast outdoors are among the most ardent conservationists.
That’s part of the reason it’s difficult to understand the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) move to reinvigorate Minnesota’s moose population. The DNR is proposing listing the moose as a “special concern” species. However, the designation carries zero weight. Why? Because the DNR plans to continue offering moose hunting permits. That’s not helpful.
Minnesota’s moose population has been in decline to the tune of 15 percent per year since 1965. The herd ranged from Minnesota’s northwest corner of the state to the Arrowhead region and south into Pine County. By 1985 the herd was mostly in the northwest corner of the state and Arrowhead region, with a the herd pulling further north. By 2010 the primary habitat for the moose was in Arrowhead and a secondary range that stretch to the northwest.
DNR officials claim that the herd numbers dwindled from 8,840 in 2006 to 4,230 in 2012. That a decline of more than 50 percent.
It should be noted that only 87 permits to hunt the moose were issued in the 2012 season. However, it would be advisable to follow the DNR’s actions that closed the Minnesota whitetail deer season back in the 1960s in an effort to allow the herd to grow without hunting pressure. There was disappointment among hunters back then, but I recall the comments from fellow deer hunters that it was the right thing to do in order to preserve the deer herd. Similar action must the taken by the DNR for the 2013 moose hunt.
Yes, I understand that the moose herd has been decimated by growing wolf packs, parasites, diseases and warmer weather. However, closing the moose hunt for a year or two is going to offer an opportunity for scientists and game management to study possible remedies the moose faces in our great state. It would give breeding bulls and cows a chance to bear more calves without hunting pressure.
Whether we have a moose hunting season in 2013 or not, is less important than growing a herd that has been in steady decline. There are no easy solutions, but continuing to hunt a herd that is in decline makes no sense.