Minnesota’s moose population continues to decline, dropping from an estimate of 4,900 in 2011 to 4,230 in 2012, according to the annual aerial survey by the DNR.
Minnesota’s moose population was estimated at 8,840 in 2006 and has trended downward since then.
The causes of moose mortality are not well understood. Of 150 adult moose radio-collared since 2002 in Minnesota, 119 have subsequently died, most from unknown causes thought to be diseases or parasites. Ten moose died as a result of highway vehicle accidents. Two were killed by trains. Only 11 deaths were clearly the result of wolf predation.
This year’s aerial survey, however, showed some positive trends. The number of cows accompanied by calves and twin calves increased in 2012, which means more calves can potentially mature into adults. But the cow and calf ratio, estimated at 36 calves per 100 cows in 2012, remains well below 1990s estimates that likely contribute to a peak population in the early 2000s.
The 2012 survey results also showed the bull-to-cow ratio increased from 2011 to an estimated 108 bulls per 100 cows, indicating that more bulls were available to breed with cows.
While this year’s aerial survey showed improved calf survival and bull-to-cow ratio, the DNR will be evaluating the data and consulting with tribal biologists before making a decision on a 2012 hunting season. The decision on the season will be announced in the coming weeks.
Last fall, the DNR continued a bulls-only hunting season and cut the number of moose-hunting permits by more than half, from 213 in 2010 to 105.
Although hunting mortality of bulls is not driving the moose population decline, the state’s moose management plan does have science-based triggers for closing the hunting season. One of those triggers is if the bull-to-cow ratio drops below 0.67 bulls-per-cow for three consecutive years.
While the bull-per-cow ratio dropped to .64 bulls/cow in 2011, it went up this year to 1.08.
Spring light goose action begins Thursday
The spring conservation action on “light” geese (snow geese, blue-phased snow geese and the smaller Ross’ goose) will open Thursday and run through April 30.
The action is allowed under a federal conservation order that permits the take of “light” geese during the spring.
A required spring light goose permit may be obtained through any DNR license agent, via telephone at (888) 665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. The permits are free, but there is a $3.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit. No other license, stamp or permit is required to participate.
Aitkin site of input meeting on hunting regs
The DNR will seek citizen input on three hunting and trapping issues at a series of public meetings this winter.
The DNR is seeking input on the following proposals:
• Requiring non-toxic shot for rail and snipe hunting.
• Adding a third waterfowl zone in southern Minnesota.
• Allowing snaring to begin earlier on private property in the farmland zone.
Overall, five meetings have been scheduled, including March 8 at Mille Lacs Energy, 36559 U.S. Highway 169, Aitkin. The meeting is from 7-9 p.m.
If the Minnesota Legislature approves and the governor signs a bill authorizing a wolf hunting and trapping season, a separate public input process will be conducted.
Those who cannot attend a meeting are urged to complete a questionnaire online at www.mndnr.gov/.
Comments are also welcome via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments may be addressed to: Season comments, DNR Section of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.
Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew meeting
CROSBY — The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hallett Center in Crosby.
Final details regarding the Crew’s winter bike riding and racing event, Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, will be discussed. Whiteout events will kick off Friday with a tailgate party at 5 p.m. and a night ride at 6 p.m. at the Sagamore Unit of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. A pasta feed social will follow at 7:30 p.m. at the American Legion in Ironton.
Racing events begin Friday morning. Racers may preregister at cuyunalakeswhiteout.com until midnight Wednesday.
The public is invited to attend all Whiteout festivities. Shopping, food, music by The Seth Doud Band and sledding for children will be available Friday at Crosby Memorial Park. Openings remain for local artisans and vendors to join the Arctic Outdoor Market. Email email@example.com for more information.
Anyone interested in helping with Whiteout is encouraged to attend the meeting. The Cuyuna Pump-Track Park, the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Patrol and participation in the Crosslake St. Patrick’s Day parade also will be discussed.
The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, a division of the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, meets at 7 p.m. at the Hallett Center on the first Thursday of every month. For more information, contact membership director Jason Przymus at firstname.lastname@example.org.