Woman launches petition to stop moose huntGunflint Trail outfitter Sue Prom is adding to the growing din seeking to stop Minnesota’s annual fall moose hunt in light of the animal’s continued, long-term decline.
By: By John Myers, Forum News Service , The Jamestown Sun
DULUTH — Gunflint Trail outfitter Sue Prom is adding to the growing din seeking to stop Minnesota’s annual fall moose hunt in light of the animal’s continued, long-term decline.
Prom has started an electronic petition to convince the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to cancel the hunt until the moose population begins to recover.
Prom, who owns Voyageur Canoe Outfitters near Saganaga Lake in Cook County with her husband, Mike, said she is far from against moose hunting — she even has a stuffed moose head in her lodge. But she echoed many others in moose country who say they just aren’t seeing as many moose as they used to.
“When I first moved up to the end of Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail 20 years ago we would commonly see 10 or more moose on a one-way trip to Grand Marais,” Prom said in a statement announcing the petition. The family’s record for the 56-mile trek into town was 17 moose on one trip. “This winter when I have driven the Gunflint Trail I have had numerous times when I haven’t seen a single moose. The most I have seen in one night is two.”
Prom said the hunt can’t be justified in light of the major decline in northeastern Minnesota’s moose herd — from more than 8,000 as recently as 2006 to about 4,000 today. The DNR currently is in the field conducting an aerial survey and should have an updated regionwide estimate in April.
Scientists aren’t sure why the population is crashing so fast, but know that the number of new calves being born isn’t enough to make up for the moose dying. They saw the same thing happen in the northwestern Minnesota a decade ago where now almost no moose remain. It’s believed that several factors may be at play, including changing habitat, predators and a combination of factors enhanced by a warming climate, including parasites and heat stress.
The DNR this year is moving to add moose to the state’s official list of “species of concern.” That designation offers no protections but is a heads up that the species is in trouble.
DNR officials are conducting multiple studies of moose mortality this winter hoping to learn specific clues of why the moose are perishing. But they say harvesting a few moose each fall isn’t a factor in the overall decline and makes little or no difference in the total population.
Last fall, just 45 bulls were taken by state-licensed hunters and about the same number by Ojibwe tribal hunters.
Glenn DelGiudice, the DNR’s moose project leader, recently told the News Tribune that there’s “not a good biological reason not to allow a modest hunt.” The DNR generally announces details of the hunt in early summer, and it’s expected that they will offer even fewer permits this year than last, if a season is warranted at all.
John Pastor, University of Minnesota Duluth researcher, has said it would be better to cancel the hunt than continue it. Meanwhile State Rep. Dave Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee, said he will hold hearings on the issue during the current legislative session.
Prom said she sees no good biological reason to allow another moose hunt in Minnesota until the population increases.
“I want to continue to see moose and see other people enjoy seeing moose on the Gunflint Trail,” she noted, adding she wants people to “have a better chance of seeing a live moose in Minnesota instead of a dead one in the back of a pickup truck.”
The petition is located at http://www.change.org/