Officials from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service put out an alert Monday asking for the public’s help “to solve the illegal killing of a wild moose in Minnesota.”

But they declined to release many details, citing their investigation.

The moose was shot and left to waste a few miles south of Fosston, Minn., sometime between Nov. 8 and 16 during the state’s rifle deer hunting season, said Federal Wildlife Officer Chuck Melvin.

With the Minnesota moose population on the decline in the state, “the thoughtless act of killing one and leaving it to waste only adds to the loss of these magnificent animals,” according to a statement the service released.

In northwest Minnesota, the moose herd is believed to be fewer than 100. The moose population in northeast Minnesota stood at about 4,350 last winter, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources survey. In 2006, the count topped 8,800. The state has suspended moose hunts.

Federal officers understand if the recent shooting was an accident, Melvin said but stressed that it needed to be reported.

“They’re trying to hide something then,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t want to report it, just like if your kid does something wrong, they should tell you about it.”

Melvin said the crime could result in simply a citation or could involve a fine ranging from $200 to $3,000, depending on the circumstances.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-218-844-3423.

Pam Louwagie