Isle Royale study may uncover declining Minnesota moose mystery

Researchers are tracking moose on Isle Royale to learn more about declining Minnesota moose popualtions. ©Ray Dumas

As researchers continue to restore wolves (Canis lupus) on Michigan’s Isle Royale, some are hoping to learn more about the species’ primary prey — moose (Alces alces). While moose are plentiful on Isle Royale, the species is declining in northeastern Minnesota, including in the nearby Grand Portage reservation, where moose have declined sharply in the last decade. Researchers recently captured 20 female moose and fitted them with GPS collars to track where they’re foraging on the island and what contributes to their deaths. The researchers hope to understand more about how wolf predation and brainworm contribute to moose deaths on the island versus on the Grant Portage reservation. They hope studying Isle Royale’s simple predator-prey system can help them understand more about the complexities of the ecosystem on the mainland. Preliminarily, they have already found moose on Isle Royale had more winter ticks than mainland moose.

Find out more about the ongoing study on MPR News.