Moose and Wolf Facts

Moose Facts

  • Moose populations are in steep decline across the northern tier of North America.  In May 2014, Alaska canceled moose hunting on the North Slope because of a "surprising and drastic" population decline of 50-75% since 2011.  From Alaska to British Columbia, Minnesota to Manitoba, and Ontario to New England, moose populations have declined at an alarming rate.
  • Moose populations are declining even in places where there are no wolves. The New Hampshire moose population has declined 41% since the 1990’s; there are no wolves in NH.
  • Studies point to climate change, with warmer winters and summers, as the primary cause of the continental die off of moose.

Minnesota:  Moose & Wolves

  • Moose & wolves have coexisted in Minnesota for thousands of years. When MN had our highest, stable number of wolves for 10+ yrs (1998-2008), we also had a healthy moose population.
  • Scientists suspect some combination of higher temperatures, parasites, diseases and changing habitat, are all responsible for the die off.  Brain and liver parasites lead the list of culprits.
  • B. Tenuous is a parasite that originates in slugs and snails and infects both white tail deer and moose. This parasite affects moose by infecting their brains causing severe illness and inability to feed and survive. Moose have been euthanized after they were observed walking and swimming in circles for days.  White-tailed deer are not affected the way moose are from B. Tenuous.  On Isle Royale in Michigan, where there are no white-tailed deer, moose populations continue to rise.

Minnesota DNR Moose Mortality Study

  • Moose & wolves have always coexisted in our north woods.  Yes, wolves eat moose. The new technology deployed in the DNR mortality study is giving us new data on behavior that has played out unobserved deep in the forests for thousands of years.
  • In Spring 2014, 58% of calves in the DNR moose study were abandoned before DNR researchers changed their collaring protocol. The problem was so severe that researchers nearly canceled the study.
  • Moose are weaker with weight loss and illness which likely causes moose to give birth to less healthy moose calves.  The moose calves killed by wolves were often one moose in a set of twin moose calves.

Minnesota DNR on the Moose Decline
DNR Website: There isn't enough data to answer why Minnesota's moose population has dropped 52 % since 2010.  It's far too early in the study for researchers to have solutions that might slow the steep decline.
DNR Fact Sheet:  The exact causes of moose mortality are not well understood. Previous research has demonstrated that hunting and predation by wolves are not the primary causes of adult deaths, and multiple signs indicate the causes are likely health- and stress-related factors.

Learn more
Collection of articles and studies about moose decline: