A declining moose herd in northeastern Minnesota could mean an end to moose hunting in the state.
Wildlife experts from Minnesota and other states and Canada met in Duluth on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of moose in North America. The fear is that a recent rise in temperatures could be causing the population decline.
The newly established Minnesota Moose Advisory Committee, whose members attended the summit, will examine the scientific studies and recommend to the Department of Natural Resources if and when to stop hunting moose in the state, what studies are needed and what management actions might be taken.
For now, it's uncertain whether Minnesota will have a moose hunting season next fall, said Dave Schad, DNR fish and wildlife section chief.
"We would like to continue hunting that population for as long as it makes sense and doesn't put the population at risk,'' Schad said. "It's a unique opportunity we provide that not many other states can provide.''
He said the committee recommendations will be crucial.
"We'd like recommendations from the group about what point does it make sense, biologically or socially, to stop killing moose if that population continues to decline,'' Schad said.
The moose hunt now is a once-in-a-lifetime affair. About 2,700 hunters applied for only 246 licenses this year.
The advisory committee will make a preliminary report to the Legislature in January, but Schad said the full report to the DNR won't be done until June, about the time fall hunting regulations will have to be finalized.Wisconsin wolves shot
State and federal officials in Wisconsin are investigating the deaths of six wolves found the day before and during the recently completed firearms deer season. Several had been shot.
Wolves are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.