Gunflint Trail outfitter Sue Prom is adding to the growing call to stop Minnesota’s annual fall moose hunt in light of the animal’s continued, long-term decline.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Prom has started an electronic petition to convince the Minnesota DNR to cancel the hunt until the moose population begins to recover.
Prom, who owns Voyageur Canoe Outfitters with her husband, Mike, said she is far from against moose hunting, but she and many others on the Gunflint Trail just aren’t seeing as many moose as they used to.
Prom said when she first moved up to the end of the Trail 20 years ago she would commonly see 10 or more moose on a one-way trip to Grand Marais. Now she says the most she’s seen in one night is two.
Prom said the hunt can’t be justified in light of the major decline in Northeastern Minnesota’s moose herd — from more than 8,000 as recently as 2006, to just over 4,000 today.
The DNR is moving to designate moose as a “species of concern,” a designation offers no protections but is a heads up that the species is in trouble.
The DNR’s current position on hunting is that there is no good biological reason not to allow a modest hunt. Department of Natural Resources biologists say the restricted bulls-only hunt has no adverse effects on the population. Last fall, state-licensed hunters killed 45 bulls. Add in tribal hunters and the total harvest was fewer than 100.
But Prom and others, including University of Minnesota Duluth researcher John Pastor say it would be better to cancel the hunt. Pastor tells the Duluth News Tribune he knows moose hunting is popular, but he thinks it's time to stop hunting them.
The House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee plans to hold hearings about the moose population decline during this legislative session. Representative David Dill, chair of the committee, says it will be a broader discussion than just hunting.