Minnesota DNR to issue 87 moose permits for 2012

St. Paul — The DNR will allow a bulls-only moose hunt this fall, but it’s reducing the number of permits available and zones open to hunters.

The agency is offering 87 permits, down from the 105 that were available last year. It’s also closing permit areas 23 and 34. Area 23 is in the Isabella area, while 34 is the western-most area and includes land south if Crane Lake. Twenty-eight zones are open.

State wildlife officials say hunting mortality of bulls is not a significant factor in the decline of the moose population, which dropped from an estimated 8,840 animals in 2006 to an estimated 4,230 this year.

The 2011 population estimate was 4,900 moose. State hunters killed 53 moose last fall. Tribal hunters killed 31.

“We reduced the number of permits commensurate with the lower population level,” said Dennis Simon, DNR Wildlife Section chief.

Said Rolf Peterson, a moose researcher and chair of the legislatively created Minnesota Moose Advisory Committee: “Even though hunting is not causing the decline, it makes sense to reduce hunting pressure in an orderly manner if the population continues to decline.”

The moose management plan the DNR developed with input from the advisory committee set a variety of thresholds it would use to decide when the hunting season should cease. Those include:

  • The bull-to-cow ratio drops below 67 bulls per 100 cows for three consecutive years. (This year’s ratio was 108 bulls per 100 cows.)
  • Overall hunter success drops below 30 percent for three consecutive years. (Overall success this year was 58 percent. In areas 23 and 34, which are closed this year, hunters last fall did not kill any of the three moose they could have killed.)
  • The harvest success rate for any individual hunting zone averages less than 20 percent for three consecutive years.

“Our approach is based on the scientific and social considerations brought forth by experts on the legislatively created Minnesota Moose Advisory Committee,” Erik Thorson, acting DNR big game program leader, said in a news release. “Committee members envisioned a time when hunting would become an issue. That time has come. We’re implementing a reasoned and responsible plan.”

This fall’s season runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 14.

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