The crashing moose population in Minnesota has DNR officials considering whether or not to hold a hunting season next year. They will make their decision over the next few weeks.
The population dropped from 8,840 in 2006 to 4,230 this winter. Biologists said that while hunting pressure and wolf predation were contributing factors, they were not the main cause.
DNR researcher Mark Lenarz told the Star Tribune that there are multiple factors affecting the mortality of Minnesota’s moose population, and it seems that climate change could play the largest role.
Lenarz believes that the immune systems of the moose are impaired over time due to the warmer weather, which leaves them vulnerable to illness and parasites.
“If we stopped hunting tomorrow, it wouldn’t stop the decline in the population,” Lenarz said. “We’re harvesting only bulls. If so many bulls were killed so that cows weren’t getting bred, that could affect the population. But we’re certainly not seeing that,” he said.