Annual Hunt Allowed Despite Declining Moose Population
Despite the fact that the estimated moose population in Minnesota this year comes in at 4,230, fourteen percent down from last year, Minnesota’s DNR intends to allow state-licensed hunters to kill moose this fall. Officials expect about 50 bull moose to be killed, with the majority of those being hunted by native Ojibwe tribes in northern Minnesota.
The moose advisory committee that advises the DNR recommends that the annual moose hunting season be discontinued only under three conditions: “the bull-to-cow ratio drops below 67 bulls per 100 cows for three straight years, hunter success drops below 30 percent for three consecutive years, or if hunter success in a particular zone drops below 20 percent for three years in a row” (necn.com) Apparently, none of these conditions has yet come to pass– so the hunt goes on.
The experts say that this year’s hunt won’t adversely affect next year’s moose population because the number of bulls killed will still leave plenty to mate with female moose and produce sufficient offspring. But the fact is that about 50 moose are expected to be killed this fall — and that’s 50 fewer moose left in the Minnesota woods, no matter which way you slice it. Last year, 53 moose were killed during the fall hunt, and this year there are 14 percent fewer moose. Is that a coincidence?
Some are chalking the declining moose population up to climate change and disease. And while that may be true, it seems silly to actively encourage the killing of animals whose populations are obviously decreasing.
Should only native Ojibwe hunters should qualify for permits, and then only if they hunt using traditional methods? For them, hunting moose is an ancestral tradition and likely necessary for their survival. What purpose does hunting serve for non-Native American Minnesotans? And is the loss of more moose worth it?
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Photo credit: Fisherga