Preliminary totals as of the final day of Minnesota’s moose season, Oct. 14, showed 87 moose hunters took 45 moose, according to Dave Pauly, Northeastern Minnesota moose hunter harvest surveillance coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Tower.
That’s a 52 percent success rate, on par with that of recent years. Since 2007, when Minnesota’s moose hunt became a bulls-only hunt, the success rate has ranged from 45 percent to 51.7 percent.
Minnesota’s moose season ran from Sept. 29 to Oct. 14.
Of this year’s hunting parties, 76 were chosen in this year’s lottery for moose licenses, and 11 were moose hunters drawn in 2011 who couldn’t hunt because of the Pagami Creek Fire.
Minnesota’s moose population has declined in recent years, from an estimate of 8,000 in 2005 to about 4,230 now, according to the Minnesota DNR. The agency, along with the 1854 Treaty Authority, surveys the state’s moose population each winter.
Moose experts say the limited, bulls-only hunt won’t affect the overall population. But they say the season could be closed in future years if there is a continued decline in moose numbers — especially the bull-to-cow ratio — or if hunter success drops below 30 percent overall.
Researchers say they still don’t know why the animals are declining so fast, and studies are under way to try to better determine the cause of mortality when moose die.