Moose population to be reviewed for potential ESA listing

By Lauren McDonald

©Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

The northwestern moose (Alces Alces andersoni) will be further considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, according to a 90-day finding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A formal petition for the species was submitted in 2015 by the Center for Biological Diversity and Honor the Earth, requesting that USFWS list the species under the Endangered Species Act as a distinct population segment in northern Minnesota, northeast North Dakota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Isle Royale, and Wisconsin. Moose populations in other parts of the country were not addressed in the petition, and therefore will not be reviewed by USFWS.

The northwestern moose population has declined over the past decade due to climate change, habitat degradation and disease, among other threats. In Minnesota alone, the populations have declined over 60 percent in the last decade.

In 2015, the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society met with the governor of Minnesota regarding his decision to prohibit wildlife managers and researchers from using radio collars when studying moose in the state. The governor’s action was the result of public concern that radio collars were increasing mortality in the already declining population. Researchers had been using the collars to better understand moose population dynamics in the state and determine reasons for the population’s decline.

USFWS will now move forward with a 12-month status review to further determine if listing under ESA is necessary. A public comment period will be open until Aug. 2 to “solicit relevant information” from the public to expedite the review process.

Lauren McDonald is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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