Collaboration with Minnesota DNR
What’s killing Minnesota’s moose?
College of Veterinary Medicine faculty, students, and alumni are working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to find out
(February 13, 2013) — Minnesota's moose population has dropped by 52 percent since 2010, and no one knows why. But the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working with collaborators at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to find out, launching an investigation into the species' decline.
Nearly 100 moose in northeastern Minnesota have been fitted with satellite tracking and data-collection collars designed to help root out the causes of rising moose mortality. The collars allow researchers to track the animals, collect other data, and get to them quickly in the event of mortality in an effort to better understand the cause of the decline. Each collar has a transmitter that will alert researchers if the moose hasn't moved in six hours, a likely sign that it's dead. In 27 of the moose, researchers inserted an implant that monitors vital signs, including temperature and heartbeat, and will alert researchers if the animal’s heart stops beating.
Thanks to funding from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the $1.2 million project is using the latest technology and an unprecedented amount of DNR staff to learn more about moose mortality, building on research that is ongoing or planned by other agencies and universities. A number of University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine faculty, students, and alumni are involved with the effort, including—
- Drs. Anibal Armien, associate clinical specialist, and Arno Wuenschmann, associate professor, of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, who are integral to the project
- Dr. Erika Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian, a 2006 graduate of the college
- Dr. Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program supervisor and adjunct assistant professor in the Veterinary Population Medicine Department, who collaborates on numerous projects between the DNR and CVM
- Kaytee Firnett, a fourth-year veterinary student at the College of Veterinary Medicine, who is doing an externship with the DNR
- Dr. Larissa Minicucci, veterinary public health program director, who trained staff on placement of the mortality implant transmitters, which are similar to magnets placed in cattle
- Dr. Jed Overmann, assistant clinical professor, who is helping to interpret the clinical pathology results