Should Minnesota suspend moose hunting?

Minnesota’s moose population is in sharp decline, but the DNR says hunting is not the reason. State officials would like to ban the feeding of deer, a practice that concentrates deer and exposes moose to disease. Today’s Question: Should Minnesota suspend moose hunting?

  • Josh D.

    Yes, its time to end the hunt. As a hunter I know that generally when there is a hunting season for an animal, that animal is going to get better conservation overall than one that does not have a season for two reasons: first the money generated by the license sales is often used for conservation (very true in the case of moose); and second, hunters want the quality of their hunting experience to improve, they have no interest in hunting something into oblivion. But I think the moose are on the way out, or at least on their way further North, and the population is getting so low that we need to protect every single moose until their population decline is reversed.

    Perhaps you could make it sound more hopeful that the moose will rebound, and say its time to “suspend” the hunt. And its certainly time for the DNR to ACT on the issue, not just study it to death.

  • wa

    As much as I hate to say it, yes. The population is in trouble and cannot sustain any pressure. I have a cabin in the heart of MN moose country and I’ve only seen 2 moose in the last 5 years. There was a time we would see moose all the time.

    The moose population is extremely healthy in Canada and Alaska. There are still plenty of hunting opportunities elsewhere. At least until our population rebounds.

  • GaryF

    Yes.

    And there should be effort to get people to stop feeding the deer. This makes deer hang out in areas where they cannot be hunted and become less wild. Deer are not endangered.

  • No, wait till they’re all gone, then suspend it.

  • Steve the Cynic

    If hunting is not the problem, then stopping the hunt is not the solution. What’s complicated about that?

    This is a tiny example of what’s wrong with our politics these days: evidence-free public policy discussions. People with no expertise in issues think they know better than those who’ve been studying them for years. The consensus among academic economists is that cutting government spending is worse for the economy than raising taxes, but anti-tax activists won’t listen. The scientific consensus is that the climate is changing, and that human activity is a major cause, but half of American voters refuse to believe the evidence.

    I like seeing moose occasionally, but I’ve never hunted moose, have no interest in hunting moose, and couldn’t care less whether moose hunting happens in Minnesota. Who am I to disagree with the DNR folks we’ve hired to intelligently manage the moose population?

  • david

    I’ve always been surprised it already hasn’t been suspended, but the licences to generate a lot of revenue. Almost 3,000 people yearly pay $3 for an application to the once in a life time lottery. Licenses themselves generate $69,750 (225 x $310/group).

    I imagine the majority of the $79,000ish generated goes directly to moose management. The DNR is usually very good at disclosing just how much they take in and exactly what that money goes for.

  • Larry M.

    The moose population in MN has been under stress because of rising temperatures and related disease. I think that we should allow the genetic lottery to work for a couple years and maybe the most adaptable (to climate and disease) moose will mate and produce adaptable offspring. Hunting by humans with guns is an unnatural part of the natural selection process and should be made to have less impact, so the moose can survive in this state.

  • Philip

    Uh…yes. There are more moose in the zoo’s and refuges than in the wild.

  • Michelle

    Steve the Cynic, I think for the first time ever I have to disagree with you slightly. Just because hunting isn’t causing the moose decline doesn’t mean that it isn’t a source of additive mortality to the population. I don’t know all the details about our particular population, but in my opinion, it sounds like hunting could be halted until the population is in good enough shape to be be sufficiently harvested again.

    Where we completely agree is in your statement, “Who are we to disagree with the DNR folks?” They most certainly have been hired to intelligently monitor and manage our wildlife populations; if the moose population can still sustain a hunt, no one would know better than our DNR.

  • CHS

    Normally I find Steve the Cynic’s comments a bit too barbed and cynical for my taste, but in this case I completely agree, he beat me to this point.

    Hunting does provide money to the DNR and does have a lot of political will behind it in this state, but most importantly it is an integral part of wildlife management. There are people that know a heck of a lot more about the balance of pressure from populations and environment than I do, and I’ll continue to trust them on this. I may disagree with the approach the DNR takes on many issues (watershed management, or lack thereof), but setting limits and seasons for hunting have been one I have always respected based on their evidence based approach. If the DNR says that the tiny number of permits given is not having an adverse impact on the overall population in the state based on the evidence at hand, then I support that decision.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Steve the Cynic, I think for the first time ever I have to disagree with you slightly.”

    Congratulations! Isn’t thinking for yourself wonderful? I wish more of the hot-heads posting here who seem to copy and paste from official political talking points would learn to enjoy that pleasure, too.

    To your point, Michelle, as I understand it there are plenty of moose in Manitoba and Ontario. The Minnesota population is the southern fringe of a large population, and their range is moving northward due to climate change. The small amount of moose hunting that happens in Minnesota is insignificant in that trend. Now, ask me if I’m sad about right-wingers who love their guns and deny climate chage being deprived of their opportunity to hunt moose in Minnesota.

  • Mark

    Steve the Cynic is right on the money on this one! I could not have said the same thing better myself.

  • Russ G.

    UNsuspend wolf hunts.

  • Greg

    I find this question misses the mark, going for a controversial topic, rather than getting to the actual heart of the matter.

    The DNR is not suggesting to suspend the hunt. NOT. There is a recommendation that if the population declines to a certain level, reduction in hunting might be wise. But the reason they are not suggesting to stop it NOW is to further study the matter, like Steve the Cynic said they should.

    What the DNR is recommending, and which will also be controversial and could have made a good question-of-the-day, is to stop the practice of recreational feeding of deer, as it’s believed this congregates deer and increases their population unnaturally, leading to the spread of disease and competing with moose in areas where deer have not traditionally had high populations.

    I’m disappointed MPR went for a rather easy question on this, rather than addressing the really important questions at hand.

  • Terry G.

    Yes – there is no reason to hunt moose in Minnesota.

    However, deer hunting should be expanded to reduce the rapidly expanding herds. Perhaps consider a commercial deer hunt. Too many deer are a real issue – ticks, conflicts with moose habitat, car accidents, etc.

  • Greg2

    I support suspended moose hunting. I realize that having hunters hanging from tree mounted harnesses or from remotely controlled helium ballons may sound ludicrous, but clearly there are some advantages. First the technique will defintely require new equipment – whcih will be a mini-boon for the economy – we could use that. Second – it promotes less impact on the ground and therefore improves soil conditions. Lets do it !

  • Ed

    The number of moose left in MN is to small to allow hunting. We should be trying to increase the moose population. Stop the lottery now.

  • Susan McCabe

    Yes, moose hunting should be suspended, if not banned altogether.

    I have lived on the North Shore, hiked the Superior Hiking Trail from one end to the other, camped and paddled in the Boundary Waters and have never seen a moose in any of those places. Yet we think of ourselves as a “moose” state. Note the tourist attraction to mugs, paintings, cards and other memorabilia. We may as well be a unicorn state.

    With ticks and other problems due to a warmer climate, the moose have a hard enough time. We should ban hunting of moose.

  • PAT COPPO

    Yes, moose hunting should be suspended.

  • I don’t think that hunting moose should be suspended in Minnesota. It is already restricted to only 105 licenses each year and it has been a once in a lifetime hunt since 1991 (so you can only get a license once in your lifetime). On top of that you can only hunt bulls so even when the hunters get a moose there is little impact to the future generations of moose. I think a better option would be to scale the number of moose hunting licenses based on population levels (the DNR most likely already does this) rather than ending the small hunt altogether. If hunting was the cause of the decline in the moose population then I could understand stopping it; since huting is not the cause we should keep the small, once in a lifetime hunt going.

  • red

    Because there are so few moose left, I think we should suspend the hunt until the population can revive. I am totally in favor of banning the feeding of deer and support INCREASING the number of deer that can taken in hunt each year. The increase in the deer population appears to be a major cause of the moose decline.

  • I’ve not heard of a Moose that terrorizes a community or runs through a glass window. This leads me to believe that they are not a problematic species like the gopher or deer where the numbers are so high that their herds have to be thinned out.

    When there’s a moose population greater than Duluth’s human population, we should look at hunting them again as a population control measure but until then, let them be.

  • John Cushing & Martha Joy

    In respect to the decreasing number of moose, we don’t think there should be a hunting season. It’s not the moose that is the problem, it’s the deer population.

  • Lori Manning

    100% yes.

    I’ve read the research and completed the DNR survey. The ONLY thing that makes legitimate sense to me is to suspend moose hunting for at least 5 years and continue with the research.Then revisit the moose population in 5 years to see if hunting can return. Hunters who hunt moose solely for sport need to find another animal for their trophy wall and realize the animal needs to be protected.

    The part that maddens me the most is the DNR saying they can’t suspend moose hunting because the revenue from moose hunting licenses is what generates and pays for the research. That’s completely insane.

    This state cannot afford to list the moose on the endangered species list. No questions asked.

  • Rocky

    Does this include Bullwinkle?

  • Sue de Nim

    What I don’t understand is how the experience of seeing wild animals in their natural habitat is enhanced by killing them.

  • Pat Taylor

    I have lived for 40 years in the same place off of Hwy #1 between Finland & Isabella, an area once cited by the Dept. of Interior as having the highest concentration of Moose in the U.S. including Alaska. When MN. only had a hunting season every 2 years the population stayed about the same in my “backyard”. While I still get photos 4-6 times a year sightings are down since the DNR went to a yearly season. IF the season is suspended will this suspension be for all those that go hunting??

  • Patrick

    Let hunters continue the slaughter in hopes, as is true in other parasites, that lack of a host will destroy the pathogen.

  • kurt S

    If climate change were the reason for the collapse of the moose population in MN ( as per Steve and his liberal talking points), how then to explain the boom in their numbers in Vermont which is at roughly the same latitude?

    I do support a hunting moratorium.

  • Steve the Cynic

    What “liberal talking points,” Kurt S? I was just agreeing with the DNR that it’s not necessary to stop moose hunting. Isn’t opposition to hunting usually considered a “liberal” position? As a matter of fact, I think for myself. I don’t consult anyone’s talking points. Your factoid about a “boom” in moose numbers in Vermont is more of a “talking point” than anything in my posts. And the fact that you think it’s significant shows that you don’t understand the science of climate change. (Are you one of those deniers who believes that a single cold winter disproves it?)

  • Kurt

    Steve C, I was referring to your reflexive reach to global warming to explain the decline (the DNR seems to be taking the brain parasite tack, but we can’t blame conservatives for that).

    The “factoid” about moose in VT is from Smithsonian magazine- hardly a right-wing publication. Apparently they have increased by something like 3000% since the 80’s (in fact if you graph the data it looks like a hockey stick).

    In any event, it is hardly a one-year phenomana.

    Now follow me here: If your premise is that the decline in the moose populations in your state is caused by global warming and you find that they have been increasing rather dramatically in another state which sits at approximately the same latitude, then it would generally cause someone who is possesed of a modicum of knowledge of scientific principles (not to mention intelluctual principles) to question their original premise.

    But…that would mean questioning their original premise, and a true believer could never do that could they?

    As to your question, no, I don’t think that that 1 cold winter (or 10) dissproves global warming any more than I think that 1 hot summer (or 10) proves it.

    For the record:

    Seems to have been some warming as of late.

    See no evidence man has anything to do with it.

    Don’t know if it is significant in a geological time frame.

    Lastly, regarding the tired claims of “concensus”. This favorite talking point of the left serves only to avoid debate by claiming that a matter has already been settled when it has not. Have a wonderful day. Seriously.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Where to begin, Kurt? Let’s start with your uninformed assumption that areas at similar latitudes should be affected similarly by climate change. Minnesota gets warmer in the summer than Vermont does, and increasingly so with global warming, and moose are not hot weather animals. (Latitude just one of many factors that affect climate. Minnesota is at a similar latitude as France, and the climate is vastly different.)

    Next, let’s consider the whole “controversy” over climate change and the role of human activity in it. Climate scientists are generally agreed that the evidence is convincing (with a few outliers). Meanwhile, folks like you say there is “no evidence” of any connection. Both can’t be right. How does this sort of disagreement happen? Rick Perry has surmised that the fault lies with greedy scientists manufacturaing an emergency in order to get research grants. Is that possible? Maybe. But really, which of these is more likely: large numbers of independent scientists conspiring to raise a false alarm to get a few tens of thousands of dollars each in research grants, or multinational fossil fuel corporations’ public relations armies raising doubts about that research in order to avoid losing many billions of dollars in annual profits? Like with tobacco in previous generations, it’s the controversy that’s manufactured, not the alarm, and the motive is profit.

  • kurt

    Steve, I don’t know where your numbers are from but I believe that you are mistaken regarding temps. I picked Ely, MN and St. Johnsbury, VT as representative of northern areas that would support moose. In fact, VT is hotter in summer and appreciablly so in winter than is MN. So if warming were the limiting factor, the beasts should be faring better in MN. France is pretty-much surrounded by an ocean-you knew that right?

    Climate is profoundly complicated. Just in the last couple of weeks NASA allowed that their models measuring heat escape from the earth were considerably underestimating the loss that occurs. Anyone who maintains that they know with certainty what is going on with the climate is just not being very honest. There was a time when the concensus was that the earth was flat (except for a few outliers). I don’t much care about “concensus”. Prove it.

    You are a cynic, I am a skeptic.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Who’s claiming to “know for certain,” Kurt? That’s the chief tactic of the climate deniers (which they learned from the tobacco companies): play up the “uncertainty” to the point where uninformed people who only listen to sound bites become convinced that what scientists regard as a solid conclusion is nothing more than speculation. If you knew something about the scientific method, you’d understand that, strictly speaking, nothing is ever “certain.” But that doesn’t mean the margin of doubt can’t sometimes be quite small.

    Not being a climate scientist myself, I probably can’t prove to your satisfaction that anthropogenic climate change is real. But most trained scientists who have studied the question more deeply than I have say they’re convinced. Meanwhile, Big Oil and Big Coal are telling me that it’s all “uncertain.”

    Not all consensuses are created equal, Kurt. Let me ask you this. Whom should I be more skeptical of: the scientific community, or the fossil fuels industry? I suggest you follow the money. Who has the most financial incentive to mislead the public? And why should I trust corporate PR spin-meisters more than scientists?

  • Kurt

    So Steve, You are saying you could be wrong?

    Thats huge.

    And I do know a bit about scientific methods, thank you very much. I worked as a biologist for a number of years.

    Further, and I know this will dissapoint you, but I don’t regard scientists as being morally superior to say, oil company executives. They are all just people-some are good, others not-so much. And not all incentives are financial.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Anyone who won’t admit the possibity of being wrong has no business engaging in public debate. I, for instance, used to believe right-wing bullshit. (I never did believe left-wing bullshit, and still don’t, btw.)

    Kurt, it’s not that scientists are morally superior to oil company executives, but that they have much less incentive to mislead the public. I’m referring, of course, to academic research scientists without a financial interest in the outcome of their studies, not those who are in the employ of corporations or of their lie factories (i.e., ideological think tanks funded by corporate interests). I advocate being skeptical of arguments in proportion to how much the ones making the case stand to profit from having people believe what their saying.

  • Kurt

    Absent financial gain, fame can be a rather intoxicating incentive in the academic world. If one is at the vanguard of a movement it is to your benefit that the movement persists. You are, after all, a big fish. It might explain, for instance, why UN climate “scientists” would conspire to hide data that did not fit their model, or that others (not necessarilly climatologists) would fabricate data entirely. The claim that autism is caused by vaccinations comes to mind as an example of the latter. The cynic in me suspects that this sort of thing is not as rare as one would suppose.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The vaccination-autism hoax was perpetrated by a single rogue scientist, Andrew Wakefield. Yes, it caused a a lot of harm, but when his results couldn’t be replicated, they were rejected, and he was appropriately disciplined. It’s a lot less likely that anthropogenic climate change is a hoax like that, since it would require lots of research scientists (who are a pretty independent-minded lot) to be in on a vast conspiracy, with no one blowing the secret by saying, “We made it all up.” And, unlike the Wakefield case, no one in particular seems to be getting famous or gaining prestige from it. Rather, it’s the self-proclaimed climate change skeptics that are making names for themselves and getting on Fox News. And the shenanigans with suppressing data are not nearly as scandalous as the right-wing talking heads have spun it as.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy.

    (My, how far we’ve gotten from the question about moose hunting!)

  • Kurt

    Yes, we seem to have drifted a bit. Later.