Calf abandonment and Minnesota high school clay target shooters

Happy summer. Here’s a grab bag of some of the items that have caught my attention in recent days:

Moose research.

Researchers in northeastern Minnesota again this year had issues related to cows abandoning their calves. In essence, some mothers took off after researchers spent a little time with the calves and put GPS collars on them. As a result, the collaring aspect of the calf project, now in its second year, nearly ground to a halt in the middle of May.

But researchers decided to try one more thing, which involved putting the collars on the calves and then leaving, spending less than a minute with each animal. So far, it appears to be working, and there haven’t been more abandonments after the initial flurry.

To me, the big question is this: Are calf abandonments reason to shelve that portion of the research project?

I’ve struggled with that question. Should the project go on if there’s one abandonment, but not if there’s five? The goal, obviously, should be zero. But what if that’s not realistic? Are the things we’ll learn more important than not having those small number of calves grow into adults in the wild (either because they died after abandonment, or were taken to a zoo)?

Based on much of what I’ve heard and read, public sentiment would say even one abandonment is too many.

On the other hand, is it then theoretically possible that we’re sacrificing an entire species in northeastern Minnesota in order that a few of today’s calves don’t die?

These are hard questions to answer, but ones I plan to keep thinking about. The best-case scenario is that researchers have indeed figured out how to minimize abandonment, can keep collaring calves, and can figure out a way to turn around the decline in Minnesota’s moose herd.

Stay tuned.

I attended the championship event of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League in Alexandria. The event, billed as the largest youth trapshooting event in the world, drew nearly 4,000 kids, who shot over the course of five days. It was really neat to see and, as I’ve said before, I sure wish the league existed when I was in high school.

We’ve been doing profiles on schools and shooters for about the past two months. You can find that archive here.

Good luck to all the kids competing in this weekend’s state tournament.

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