Posted at: 02/06/2013 11:04 AM
Updated at: 02/07/2013 5:02 PM
By: Jon Ellis and Laurie Stribling
The Minnesota DNR has canceled the 2013 moose hunt and says there will be no more moose hunts unless the population recovers.
The DNR announced results of a new aerial survey Wednesday, saying the moose population in northeastern Minnesota has declined 35 percent from last year to an estimated 2,760 animals. The region had an estimated moose population of 8,840 as recently as 2006.
"The state's moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter," said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner, in a press release. "This is further and definitive evidence the population is not healthy. It reaffirms the conservation community's need to better understand why this iconic species of the north is disappearing from our state."
Landwehr said past moose hunting seasons, which he called limited, are not the cause of the population decline.
The DNR is also considering the designation of moose as a species of special concern. A meeting about changes to the endangered, threatened, and special concern species list was Wednesday night in Duluth.
"A lot of people wanted to talk about the wolf, moose and eagle," DNR Endangered Species Coordinator Kurt Baker said.
Baker held several public hearings across the state. We said it's part of protocol, but an important part of finalizing an endangered species list.
About 40 people showed up at the meeting in Duluth where people were also concerned about wolves. Wolves and eagles are proposed to be taken off the special concern list, while moose are being added.
"We have moose, we have deer, we have wolf," Bob Tammen, from Soudan, said. "We have a balanced ecosystem and we need our scientists to maintain that balance rather than going out and recklessly shooting anything that moves."
Tammen, along with others, were happy to hear the moose hunt will end.
"Great, now if we could go back a year and stop that wolf hunt," Jim Bangsund, from Duluth, said.
Robin Johnson, from Minneapolis, is another person concerned with the dramatic decline of moose in Minnesota. When she heard the new lower numbers, she was crushed.
"I wanted to cry," Johnson said. "It just makes me sick, and they may not be here, but we cant just let them die."
In an effort to stop this trend, she was up in the Northland meeting with DNR officials about how to help. Johnson, who owns a cupcake shop in Minneapolis, decided to try curbing decline with dessert.
"You put your sweet tooth to good use that day," Johnson said. "That is all I ask."
She will be donating some proceeds of her cupcake sales on February 9 to the Save Minnesota Moose organization. If you can't make it to her shop, you can donate on the organization's Web site, just click here.