Posts Tagged ‘moose’

Biologists launch annual Fairbanks moose count (Associated Press)

November 18, 2011

By: The Associated Press | 11/12/11 Original article here

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s annual moose count is under way after a two-day delay caused by inclement weather.

The aerial survey, conducted by state officials in the Interior each year in October and November, began Friday. The surveys help biologists develop population trends, figure out harvest rates and quotas and determine whether the state is meeting population management objectives, Fish and Game biologist Don Young told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/s6h3aV).

Using GPS-equipped airplanes, pilots fly grid patterns over specific areas while biologists count any moose they see in the area. Those numbers are extrapolated to come up with a unit-wide population estimate.

This year, the department is focusing its efforts on two game management units: 20C southwest of Fairbanks, and 20A south of the town across the Tanana River.

The department does moose surveys every year in unit 20A, one of the most heavily hunted areas in the state where about 5,000 hunters kill some 1,000 moose a year. But the other unit, where only about 130 moose are harvested annually, will get the most comprehensive survey yet, Young said.

“We did a composition survey three or four years ago but this will be the first population estimate that I’m aware of,” he said. The survey is needed so the Board of Game can consider various management proposals.

Biologists are hoping to have the counts finished in both unit 20C and unit 20A by the first week in December, which is when bull moose typically start shedding their antlers. It’s also too dark to do much at that point, Young said.

Biologists in Tok conducted moose surveys last week and surveys were being conducted in the Delta and Galena areas this week, Young said.

Municipality of Alta, Norway, has created guide for moose encounters

November 17, 2011

The municipality of Alta in Finnmark, Norway, has created a folder informing citizens on how to behave when encoutering moose in populated areas. The folder is also available online here.

I have translated a few bits from the folder below:

“Is the Moose dangerous? It’s important to be aware of the fact that the moose is a wild animal that can defend itself and thereby become a danger.”

Undisturbed moose grazes near housing area. Do not try to get the mooses attention by screaming and yelling, throwing snowballs or by approaching it.

Attentive moose: The moose has become aware of a disturbance, and has not yet decided to stay or flee.

Aggressive and dangerous moose: This moose is aggressive. Notice that it's neck hairs are standing up, it is holding it's head low and the ears are held flat. This is dangerous. Remove yourself from the area as quickly as possible. The moose can attack at any moment.

Attacking moose: The situation is life threatening and must be avoided at any cost. YOU CAN NOT OUTRUN A MOOSE!

Minnesota Moose Population Crash Possibly Correlated With Climate Change

February 20, 2011

by John Laumer, Philadelphia on 02.19.11 Original article here

 

aerial view minnesota moose photo
The end is near. Image credit: Mark Lenarz. (excerpted from slide show)

I recently was chided a bit for suggesting (without having provided a link to supporting scientific evidence) that the behavior of a central-Wisconsin black bear emerging from its den in early February might well be attributed to climate change. (See Black Bear, Bummed Out By Climate Change, Falls Asleep In Backyard ….)

Today I feel lucky, having stumbled onto some related science. The population density of northern Minnesota moose has been falling for years and bull moose are decreasing in proportion to cow moose. No, it’s definitely not a poaching problem; nor is it a human hunting or wolf-predation caused fall off (see below for some data). There is, however, a potential correlation of the long term Minnesota moose population collapse with climate change.

Here are some brief (out of context) excerpts from a presentation made recently that summarized research into possible causes of the observed decline in Minnesota’s moose population. Source: Presentation “Minnesota Moose” by Mark S. Lenarz and Erika Butler Minnesota DNR, Division of Fish and Wildlife Wildlife Research Unit.

  • Moose have an upper critical temperature of 14º C in the summer and -5 º C in the winter (Renecker and Hudson 1986).
  • Moose increase their metabolic rate when these thresholds are exceeded in an attempt to maintain core body temperature.
  • Non-hunting mortality was correlated with temperature indices, both seasonally and annually and these temperature indices have been increasing over the last 50 years.
  • If increasing temperatures are the cause for the decreases in survival, the decline of the northeastern population will take place even more rapidly.

From the same presentation, here are summations of mortality causation and population trend.
ne-minnesota-moose-mortality-iimage.jpg 

moose-population-trend-image.jpg

Note: I am not personally suggesting that Minnesota moose are dying off mainly because they’re too hot, although, not being an expert, I can’t exclude the direct significance of heat stress, nor can I weigh the impacts on moose of changed seasons. The best thing to do if you are interested in understanding this is to dive into the full presentation and give it some consideration before you comment.

What I am saying, in general – regarding surrogate indicators of climate change – is that a bear crawling out of its den after a two-day Wisconsin February warm up is not a behavior that I’ve ever heard of before. There’s no evolutionary advantage for the bear to then fall asleep in the snow where he is vulnerable to predators. Sure…it happens in March or April; but, a February den emergence signals a change in nature.

Back to Bullwinkle.
Moose evolved to live in a boreal-like forest characterized, in part, by their fitness inside a certain band of seasonal temperatures. When these thermal optima shift upward, individual animals may migrate north and/or the overall moose population will decline. It is the nature of living things. Otherwise we’d have tapirs in Oklahoma and alligators in Maine.

So, I’m sticking with my intuition on this subject. What’s good for the Tea Party is good enough for me. Bears should be in their Wisconsin dens in February and Moose should flourish across northern Minnesota, assuming human-caused habitat changes and disease are shown not to be likely causes of the crash, for example.

All there is left to debate is whether and to what extent we humans are causing the climate to change.

If I lived in Minnesota and liked to hunt I would want to get to the bottom of this and would offer what ever support I could to the researchers studying the population crash. Same if I were a company making a rifle capable of downing a bull moose.

 

Michigan “elusive” moose population to be hunted?

December 23, 2010

Michigan will probably allow for licences to hunt moose, but the debate is on. Some scientists want to stop the new legislation. In the mid 1980’s, 59 moose were imported from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada to western Marquette County in hopes of establishing a population that eventually could be hunted.

Hornfar

Michigan moving closer to allowing moose hunt

Original article here

Associated Press – December 15, 2010 5:24 PM ET LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Michigan is moving closer to allowing a moose hunt. The state Legislature on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would allow the first open hunting season for moose in the state. The bill approved unanimously by the Senate and 82-9 by the House directs state officials to set up a moose hunting advisory council. The council would make a recommendation on how many moose should be allowed to be killed during a hunt and how long a season would last. Effects on the moose population would have to be considered. A moose hunting license would cost $100. The bill now goes to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The moose hunting bill is Senate Bill 1013.

Scientists urge veto of moose hunting bill

They say little is known about long-term impact

JOHN FLESHER • ASSOCIATED PRESS • DECEMBER 21, 2010

Original article here

TRAVERSE CITY – A group of scientists mounted a last-ditch effort Monday to derail legislation that could lead to moose hunting in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, contending too little is known about the size of the herd and its long-term prospects for survival. Rolf Peterson, a Michigan Tech University moose expert, and 13 other biologists at Michigan universities sent a letter to Gov. Jennifer Granholm urging a veto of a bill that would create a panel to study the matter and recommend whether to allow the hunts. The measure cleared the Legislature this month with little opposition.

Granholm had not signed the measure as of Monday but plans to do so, spokeswoman Katie Carey said, adding that she didn’t know whether the scientists’ eleventh-hour appeal would sway the outgoing Democratic governor.

Elusive Animals

Wildlife managers believe roughly 500 moose wander Michigan’s far north but acknowledge it’s hard to pinpoint the exact number of the elusive mammals. Peterson said the herd has reached only about half the total anticipated in the mid-1980s, when officials hauled 59 moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, to western Marquette County in hopes of establishing a population that eventually could be hunted.

The moose are “seriously challenged by ecological conditions,” the scientists’ letter said. “Decisions about whether or how to hunt moose in Michigan should be delayed until an independent scientific panel comprised of appropriate experts evaluates the relevant issues.”

Sen. Jason Allen, a Traverse City Republican who sponsored the bill, said it doesn’t require a moose hunt but simply authorizes the study. The final call would be made by the Natural Resources Commission, which sets state hunting and fishing policy, he said.

Number Of Factors

Scientists believe a number of factors probably have limited growth of the herd, including an increase in numbers of whitetail deer, which carry a brainworm parasite that is fatal to moose. The warming climate also may be a problem. Moose are cold-weather animals and the Upper Peninsula is on the southern fringe of their comfort zone, said Brian Roell, the DNRE’s moose specialist.

One scientist’s hobby: recreating the Ice Age

December 19, 2010

Russian claims his theory to introduce herds of animals to Siberia can slow global warming.

By ARTHUR MAX The Associated Press 11/27/2010
Original article here


Semi-wild Yakutian horses are seen at the Pleistocene Park, a 40,000 acre wilderness in northern Siberia, Russia. Russian scientist Sergey Zimov is trying to recreate conditions from the end of the Ice Age when this area was rich in wildlife and summer meadows.

CHERSKY, Russia — Wild horses have returned to northern Siberia. So have musk oxen, hairy beasts that once shared this icy land with woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats. Moose and reindeer are here, and may one day be joined by Canadian bison and deer.

Later, the predators will come — Siberian tigers, wolves and maybe leopards.

Russian scientist Sergey Zimov is reintroducing these animals to the land where they once roamed in millions to demonstrate his theory that filling the vast emptiness of Siberia with grass-eating animals can slow global warming.

“Some people have a small garden. I have an ice age park. It’s my hobby,” says Zimov, smiling through his graying beard. His true profession is quantum physics.

Climate change is felt most sharply in the Arctic, where temperatures are warming faster than anywhere else on the planet. Most climate scientists say human activity, especially industrial pollution and the byproducts of everyday living like home heating and driving cars, is triggering an unnatural warming of the Earth. On Monday, negotiators representing 194 countries open a two-week conference in Cancun, Mexico, on reducing greenhouse gases to slow the pace of climate change.

‘Interesting experiment’
Zimov is trying to recreate an ecosystem that disappeared 10,000 years ago with the end of the ice age, which closed the 1.8 million-year Pleistocene era and ushered in the global climate roughly as we know it.

He believes herds of grazers will turn the tundra, which today supports only spindly larch trees and shrubs, into luxurious grasslands. Tall grasses with complex root systems will stabilize the frozen soil, which is now thawing at an ever-increasing rate, he says.

Herbivores keep wild grass short and healthy, sending up fresh shoots through the summer and autumn. Their manure gives crucial nourishment. In winter, the animals trample and flatten the snow that otherwise would insulate the ground from the cold air. That helps prevent the frozen ground, or permafrost, from thawing and releasing powerful greenhouse gases. Grass also reflects more sunlight than forests, a further damper to global warming.

It would take millions of animals to change the landscape of Siberia and effectively seal the permafrost. But left alone, Zimov argues, the likes of caribou, buffalo and musk oxen multiply quickly. Wherever they graze “new pastures will appear … beautiful grassland.”

The project is being watched not only by climate scientists but by paleontologists and environmentalists who have an interest in “rewilding.”

“This is a very interesting experiment,” said Adrian Lister, of the Natural History Museum in London. “I think it’s valid from an ecological point of view to put back animals that did formerly live there,” he told AP Television News. He disapproved of suggestions to rewild nonnative species — for example, relocating elephants and rhinos to the American plains.

Zimov began the project in 1989, fencing off 160 square kilometers (40,000 acres) of forest, meadows, shrub land and lakes. It is surrounded by another 600 square kilometers (150,000 acres) of wilderness.

It is an offshoot of the Northeast Science Station, which he founded and where he has lived for 30 years. Already icebound by October, the park is 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland from the station, accessible only by boat in summer and by snow vehicles after the rivers freeze.

A 32-meter (105-foot) tower inside the park gives constant readings of methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor. The data feeds into a global monitoring system overseen by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Zimov’s research on permafrost, greenhouse gas emissions and mammoth archaeology has attracted world scientists to his laboratories, a small cluster of cabins and a tiny chapel on a rocky bluff above a channel of the Kolyma River. A 20-bed barge is used for field trips in summer, and a $100,000 hovercraft is on order. Zimov sometimes uses an old Russian tank to bring supplies from the Chinese border, 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) away.

Part of the station’s attraction — and deterrence — is its remoteness. It is 6,600 kilometers (4,000 miles) and eight time zones east of Moscow. The nearby town of Chersky, with some 5,000 people, has few amenities, and the nearest city, Yakutsk, is a 4-1/2 flight. Many researchers, particularly Americans, prefer to work in Alaska or northern Canada, which are more accessible.

“Most of the Arctic is in Russia, and yet most of the Arctic research isn’t,” said Max Holmes, of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, director of the Polaris Project, which has sent undergraduates to the station for the last three summers.

‘What’s $1 million?’
Zimov started the park with a herd of 40 Yakutian horses, a semi-wild breed with a handsomely long mane that is raised by Yakuts and other native people for their meat. Short, sturdy and broad-backed, they survive harsh Siberian winters with the help of a furry hide, thick layers of fat and the ability to paw through a meter (3 feet) of snow to forage.

Of his first herd, Zimov said 15 were killed by wolves and bears, 12 died from eating wild hemlock that grows in the park, and two slipped through the perimeter and made their way back some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to their

But he bought more. Now the horses have learned to avoid poisonous plants and to resist predators. Over the last three years, more colts were born and survived than horses lost.

The challenge is to find the right balance between grazers and predators, and how to help his animals get through their first winters.

His workers still give occasional buckets of grain to the horses to supplement their diet with salt. About half the horses come regularly to the cabin where a caretaker stays year-round. The other half are rarely seen except for their tracks.

Zimov also has had problems with the moose that he brought inside his enclosure. Moose still live in small numbers in surrounding forests, and the males jump back and forth over the 6-foot-high fence.

In September he traveled to a nature reserve on Wrangel Island, about five hours by boat across the East Siberia Sea, and brought back six 4-month-old musk oxen. One died a few weeks later. The others are kept in a small enclosure and fed hay until they can fend for themselves.

His objective is to see whether a thriving population of grazing animals will regenerate grasslands that disappeared long ago, which would slow and even halt the accelerating pace of permafrost thaw. So far, he says, the results are encouraging.

Today he has 70 animals in the park. He wants thousands to restock Siberia. To bring 1,000 bison from North America would cost $1 million, Zimov says, a small price to pay.

“If permafrost melts, 100 gigatons of carbon will be released this century,” he said. “What’s $1 million? One regular grant.”

___

AP Television News producer Siobhan Starrs and APTN cameraman Dmitry Kozlov contributed to this story.

Reindeer and Other Herbivors Determine the Tree Line – Not Warmth

December 3, 2010
Monday, 29 November 2010 11:17 Written by Gustaf Klarin, SR Vetenskapsradion
Original article here
It is not principally a warmer climate that is making the tree line creep upwards in many directions in the Swedish mountains. This is shown in a new study from the Torneträsk region in northern Sweden. There are several other factors that affect the spread of trees more than higher temperatures.

It is mainly grazing reindeer, insect attacks, and several other factors that affect the spread of the mountainous forest, more than the changed temperature situation.

“Tree line can go up, down or stay in the same position even during the same climatic period. That has not being showed before,” says Terry Callaghan, director of the Abisko Scientific Research Station.

Researchers were able to see that precisely reindeer grazing affects more than the temperature, since the tree line advanced furthest upward during the cold period that started in the late 1960s and continued through the 1970s, it was a time of fewer reindeer.

A warmer climate has more of an indirect effect through, for example, there being more insects that can damage trees.

Many climate models expect the forest in the tundra and the upper Arctic will expand heavily northward in the next hundred years because of higher temperatures. But the new research indicates that the assumptions may be grossly inaccurate. The effect of grazing reindeer and moose must be reckoned with.

“We can not just expect the tree line to move northwards, we have to look in more detail,” Terry Callaghan says.

Police officers free moose tangled in rope and tree

November 18, 2010

RESCUE: Landscaping pole extends knife to cut bull loose.

Photos courtesy of SUSIE ARNOLD A bull moose tangled in a line near the Bell's Nursery parking lot on Sunday morning was freed by APD Officer Horace Snyder.

By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News. Published: November 15th, 2010
Original article here

An Anchorage police officer called out Sunday to deal with a big bull moose tethered by a rope to a post freed the ungulate with the use of a makeshift saw.

Susie Arnold spotted the moose when she arrived at Bell’s Nursery on Sunday morning to meet a friend for coffee. The trapped moose was on a bike path beside Bell’s, in South Anchorage on Specking Avenue. And the moose was agitated, she said.

The rope was caught initially on a wooden post. The moose worked it off the post, but became tangled in a nearby spruce tree, said Arnold, who watched the situation unfold more than an hour and a half. At one point, one of the moose’s legs was caught by the rope.

Senior patrol officer Horace Snyder was dispatched to answer the moose call.

“When I got there, it was wrapped up in a spruce tree with the rope kind of tied around its antler,” Snyder said. The moose thrashed around in frustration and fear, he said.

Sgt. Justin Doll, who was off duty, was at Bell’s having coffee and came out to help. The officers found a long green landscaping pole and attached Snyder’s pocketknife to one end with duct tape. Doll pulled his pickup close to give Snyder cover. The moose edged away from the truck, which tightened the rope. “I just reached over with the pole and actually cut the moose free. And it just ran away,” Snyder said.

A crowd of people watched and snapped pictures.

“I was just thrilled that APD took the time to make the bike trail safe for pedestrians and that they took additional time to make sure that the moose was safe. It would have been easy to just shoot him,” Arnold said.

Once the police officer arrived, it took just 10 minutes to figure out how to free the moose, she said.

“I was happy we were able to do that rather than have to put the moose down,” Snyder said. “He wasn’t injured and there wasn’t any reason to kill it.

Heavy Metals May Influence Moose Health

November 13, 2010

Bull moose. Moose in southern Norway are in significantly worse health than those further north and in eastern Norway. An analysis of roughly 600 moose livers, combined with information such as carcass weights and ages, shows that Norway's southernmost herds are afflicted with kidney problems and osteoporosis. (Credit: iStockphoto/Patrik Kiefer)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2010) Original article here
— Moose in southern Norway are in significantly worse health than those further north and in eastern Norway. An analysis of roughly 600 moose livers, combined with information such as carcass weights and ages, shows that Norway’s southernmost herds are afflicted with kidney problems and osteoporosis.

Marit Nordløkken, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Chemistry is investigating whether one of the factors behind these findings may be high concentrations of heavy metals.

Cadmium accumulation

Nordløkken’s analysis shows that there is enough cadmium in the moose organs from southern Norway that hunters should think twice before they eat large amounts of foods made with moose liver or kidneys, such as liver pate or kidney pie.

“Many heavy metals are stored in the liver and kidneys of animals and humans alike. I have found a great deal of cadmium in my analysis. Cadmium is not acutely toxic, but the amount in the body increases with age and can eventually cause health problems and disease,” Nordløkken says.

Geographical variation

Nordløkken has examined liver samples from about 600 animals. The samples are mainly supplied by hunters — primarly because it is rare that a moose will die of natural causes in a place where it can be found. She also collects information on carcass weight and age. This collection of information has enabled her to see that the size of the moose varies geographically, and that moose are larger the further north they live.

For example, the moose from the coasts of Nordland and Troms in northern Norway are much larger and heavier than their southern cousins, while moose from Trøndelag, in mid-Norway, are in the middle in terms of weight and size.

Nordløkken is able to determine the age of the moose by counting the rings in their teeth, much like biologists can age trees by counting annual tree rings. The oldest animal she has found to date is a cow that was 17-and-a-half years old.

Different diets

It has long been known that there are higher levels of air pollution and higher levels of heavy metals in southern Norway than in the rest of the country. This is due to atmospheric long-range transport from the rest of Europe where the heavy metals fall with acid rain.

The most severely affected areas are in West and East Agder counties and parts of Telemark county. This area is characterized by bedrock with granite and gneiss, both of which are not very good at neutralizing acid rain.

“It may also be important that the moose are living on different diets in different parts of the country. The department has another project that examines plants in the southern region and will provide further information about heavy metals in the plants that moose graze on,” say NTNU Professors Torunn Berg and Trond Peder Flaten, who along with Eiliv Steinnes are Nordløkken’s advisers.

The research is being conducted in collaboration with NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, which monitors populations of deer.

Police seize marijuana and moose meat (Halifax, Canada)

April 17, 2010

Charged for pot production

The Department of Natural Resources is investigating the discovery of the moose meat.

The man was scheduled to appear in Dartmouth provincial court Thursday to face charges of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, production of marijuana and possession of illegal cigarettes under the Excise Act and Revenue Act.

Did you know? A few facts about moose (via elusivemoose.eu)

April 16, 2010

The moose (alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family, and is known as ‘the King of the Forest’.

In 2007 there were 120,000 moose in Norway.

All moose are herbivores and eat many types of plant or fruit. The average adult moose needs to consume 9,800 calories per day to maintain its body weight. An adult moose stands 1.8–2.1m (6–7ft) high at the shoulder. Males weigh 380–720kg, females 270–360kg.

The moose has long, thick brown fur. The hair is hollow, which helps keep the moose warm. The moose also has long legs. Its front legs are longer than its rear ones – this helps it jump over fallen trees and other obstacles in the forest.

Only males (called bulls) have antlers. These can reach up to 1.8m (6ft) across, although 1.2-1.5m (4-5ft) is more common. The mature bull drops its antlers after the mating season each year to conserve energy for the winter. A new set of antlers regrows in the spring. Antlers take three to five months to fully develop. They initially have a layer of skin, called ‘velvet’, which is shed once the antlers become fully grown. The velvet has blood vessels in it that deliver nutrients that help the antlers grow.

The moose is active in the day, especially at dawn and dusk. It has very poor eyesight but good hearing and an excellent sense of smell. It is a very good swimmer and can swim as fast as 10km (6 miles) an hour. On land they can run up to 56km (35 miles) an hour over short distances, and trot steadily at 32km (20 miles) an hour.

Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression, especially when they have youngs around. And although moose actually attack more people than bears and wolves combined, it’s usually with only minor consequences.

Moose collisions with vehicles and trains, on the other hand, cause more damage to property and injuries to people, sometimes even death. The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten estimated in January 2008 that some 13,000 moose had died in collisions with Norwegian trains since 2000. That’s a lot of dead moose every year – please remember that when driving on remote country roads at dusk (the time of day when you’re most likely to hit one).

Original article here at elusivemoose.eu, “Your (unofficial) guide to Østfold, south-eastern Norway”