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Fewer MN bull moose licenses available in 2011

From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

-- Minnesota's bull-only moose hunt will continue in 2011, but the Department of Natural Resources has reduced the number of available permits by half to reflect a continued decline in the moose population and a more conservative harvest model.

This year, 105 licenses will be available in northeastern Minnesota, down from the 213 permits issued in 2010. The application period for the fall hunt, open only to Minnesota residents age 10 and older, begins April 1 and ends May 6.

The DNR soon to be released moose management and research plan recommends using bull-cow ratios as a measure to determine whether a bulls-only hunt should continue. DNR biologists will now base the harvest level on 5 percent of the estimated bull population rather than 2 percent of the estimated total moose population.

Based on the January 2011 aerial moose survey, a decline in the bull-cow ratio was observed. The current ratio is sufficient for cows to be bred each fall, but is below the threshold identified in the management and research plan.

"We continue to allocate moose licenses very conservatively and anticipate about 50 will be harvested this fall by state hunters." said Lou Cornicelli, big game coordinator. "This low level of harvest should allow for an increase in the proportion of bulls in the population."

Moose season is open Oct. 1 to 16. Hunters can apply at any DNR license agent or at the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul. Moose hunters must apply in parties from two to four individuals. An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application.

Permits are issued through a random drawing, except that applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses. A person who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection also will be included in the regular drawing.

Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2011 drawing. The license fee is $310 per party. There will be mandatory orientation sessions required for all hunters chosen for moose licenses.

In 2010, licensed hunters harvested 109 bull moose, for a party success rate of 51 percent. The DNR's most recent aerial survey of moose in northeastern Minnesota estimates the population at 4,900. Last year's estimate was 5,500.

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