Scientists working to preserve Minnesota moose herd

Project Summary: Scientists have restored 1,000 acres of moose foraging habitat near Lake Superior and are working on other wildlife management activities in an effort to sustain the moose herd in eastern Minnesota.


Project name: Restoring Moose Foraging Habitat in Lake Superior Uplands.

Location: Lake County, Minn., near Grand Marais.

An adult moose and calf in northern Minnesota. (Photo by Ron Moen, University of Minnesota-Duluth).

Description: Moose are one of the most cherished and threatened wildlife species in Minnesota. The moose population in northwestern Minnesota decreased over the past 20 years, from more than 4,000 animals to fewer than 100. Scientists fear climate change could cause a similar decline in the moose herd in northeastern Minnesota, on the uplands along Lake Superior. Researchers have counted more than 7,000 moose in northeastern Minnesota in recent years, but scientists have recently observed higher mortality among moose that have been fitted with radio collars. The increased mortality has been tied to climate change. Scientists at the University of Minnesota-Duluth are leading an effort to sustain the moose population in northeastern Minnesota by restoring foraging habitat that the animals need to survive. Researchers are also developing habitat guidelines that will help private property owners and public land managers provide the best possible habitat for the animals. A grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative allowed researchers to restore 200 acres of moose foraging habitat near wetlands and evaluate whether moose are using another 800 acres of previously restored foraging habitat. Initial results indicated that moose are using the restored foraging habitat. The GLRI project is part of a larger, decade-long effort to better manage moose habitat. The hope is that improved habitat management activities will prevent a major decrease in the moose population in northeastern Minnesota.

Approximate cost of project: $193,432, which was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Resource challenges addressed: Loss of moose foraging habitat, climate change adaptation.

Key partners (public and private): University of Minnesota-Duluth, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Zoo and the Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center.

Types of jobs created: Biologists, ecologists, data technicians and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: Moose are actively using 1,000 acres of restored foraging areas, which could help the animals survive climate change.

Web site:

Originally Published: November 27, 2012