Moose is far from homeThe moose spotted in Knife River last week, and around the area for another week, has been identified, says Mike Schrage, a wildlife biologist with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chip-pewa in Cloquet.
By: Mike Creger, Lake County News Chronicle
The moose spotted in Knife River last week, and around the area for another week, has been identified, says Mike Schrage, a wildlife biologist with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chip-pewa in Cloquet.
He and researchers from the Minnesota DNR and other groups have been keeping track of regional moose to study more closely why their numbers have dwindled in northeast Minnesota.
“Found her,” Schrage wrote in an email to the News-Chronicle and Reid and Angela Carson. They sent the newspaper a photo of the moose loping across their Knife River yard Nov. 15.
“She’s Moose 4073.” By Tuesday afternoon, 4073 was found just northwest of the Highway 61 expressway near Larsmont, Schrage said.
“She is an eight-year moose that we captured and collared in February 2008,” Schrage wrote. He had called the newspaper last week after hearing about the photo. He was anxious to get a copy from the Carsons since moose sightings in residential areas, especially collared ones, are rare. And he was really wondering which moose had gotten so off-track from observation areas around Finland.
“Before now, her usual haunts were the Ninemile and Crooked lakes area northeast of Finland. I have no idea why she decided to pick up and move to Knife River. She evidently covered the distance fairly quickly because she hadn’t been missing for more than a couple of weeks.”
“Her behavior this past May indicated she probably had a calf with her, but, if so, she must have lost it sometime between now and then. Moose calves stick pretty close to their mothers for their first year.”
Schrage said the moose has likely walked more than 50 miles in 10 days from her usual spot. He said he’s seen only three or four moose makes moves like that over the course of his study. “Most northeastern Minnesota moose stay in the same 20-square-mile area for their whole life.”
He thinks 4073 would “be a lot better off if she went ‘home.’” There’s no telling what she might do. One moose in his study made a permanent move to Canada while a few others made migrations back and forth. One didn’t live long after making such a big move.
Schrage said he spoke with a “number of people” who’d seen the moose while tracking her in the Knife River area Tuesday. “She’s obviously not been terribly shy about being seen.”
Schrage had been trying to get a pilot into the air to track the moose but ran into less-than-ideal weather conditions early this week. He went by ground Tuesday and made the find. “It helped confirm what we were looking for and it makes things much easier on our pilot since he won’t have to search for her anymore.”
An aerial check of the collared moose in the region Nov. 15, the same day as the Carson’s sighting, showed no unusual movements, Schrage said, but two collared moose had been reported “missing” from the Finland area. Flight searches usually are to detect signals and determine if an animal is still alive, he said.
Schrage said he also received a sighting report Nov. 14 from the Island Lake Reservoir area north of Duluth. There are also moose in the Kane and Marble lakes area.
He doesn’t want 4073 to stick around, since moose aren’t too smart about avoiding traffic. “She’s already crossed the expressway at least twice,” he said. He also said people are attracted to moose when one is spotted, causing traffic and other crowd problems.
Best to simply visit the Mocha Moose along Scenic Highway 61 and avoid chasing after Moose No. 4073.