Helicopter crews had to recapture eight moose last week on the Grand Portage Reservation because their satellite collars weren’t transmitting data properly. According to a story in the Duluth News Tribune, the moose were among nine that had been collared just 11 days earlier. One component of the eight malfunctioning collars had been unknowingly disabled, preventing the collars from correctly transmitting information to satellites, and biologists on the ground were not receiving data.
According to Seth Moore, director of biology for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, scientists involved in the project had been rushed in programming the collars before the first capture. The collars had arrived later than intended.
“Obviously, we would have preferred not to recapture them,” said Ron Moen, a biologist with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, a partner in the project. “But if you do something like this and have collars on an animal, you want to get the best information you can.”
The recapture effort was apparently well executed on Friday. The moose were located by radio telemetry signals. In all but one case, helicopter crews dropped mesh nets over the animals.
One moose wouldn’t come out into the open, and it had to be immobilized with a drug.
The netted moose, still fully awake, were hobbled. Biologists arrived on the ground, activated the disabled satellite-transmission switches, took additional blood samples and released the moose. The process took six to seven minutes and the collars are all functioning properly.