Minnesota’s moose population, in state researchers' words, is no better or worse than last year, judging from the Department of Natural Resources’ survey results announced this week. The estimated population is 3,150; last year it was 4,180. Both numbers fall into a range deemed stable by wildlife managers.

While the moose population has trended downward since 2006, there have been markers of stabilization since 2012, according to the DNR. Researchers watch for calf survival from January to April, but it's the survival of adult moose that has the greatest long-term effect on their numbers, the DNR’s 2020 survey said. Brainworm and other diseases and low reproduction continue to hamper the moose population. DNR moose project manager Glenn DelGiudice said wolves also continue to prey heavily on newborn calves, which struggle to survive through their critical first year.

The survey by helicopter to monitor the species covers almost 6,000 miles in northeastern Minnesota. Researchers and wildlife managers focused on grid of “survey plots” across the moose range. In all, observers saw 308 moose (131 bulls, 138 cows, 37 calves and two “unclassified adults”) during the survey in January.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority partnered with the DNR’s enforcement, and fish and wildlife divisions.