Within days of finishing a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources effort to capture 49 moose calves and fit them with GPS transmitter collars, 22 of the newborns already have died, most killed by black bears and wolves.
While it was expected — calves, like fawn deer, are most vulnerable in their first few days and weeks — the high level of mortality is a reminder, even for veteran researchers, of the harsh realities of the north woods food chain.
Wildlife researcher Glenn DelGiudice said, “Especially in the last few days, bear and to some extent wolves have just been hammering the calves,”
DelGiudice, the DNR’s lead moose researcher, told the Duluth News Tribune. “We knew that we would lose a lot of calves quickly. But to see it happening in real time like this is all new for us.”
This year’s late snow, cool spring and delayed green-up in the forest might have pushed more bears to find calf moose.
“You could have 100 percent of the calves survive and that wouldn’t solve our problem,” DelGiudice said. “Our problem (in Northeastern Minnesota) is that too many adults are dying; not enough are surviving to reproduce to sustain the population.”