Moose calf mortality project


A newborn moose calf wearing a GPS collar.

Knowing when, why and how moose calves die is essential to understanding moose population dynamics in Minnesota. That's why DNR is studying the reproductive success of Minnesota's moose.

The calf mortality study focuses on pregnancy rates, calf production, survival, deaths and how many moose calves survive to one year, when the probability of survival increases dramatically compared to young calves and old adults.

Gathering and analyzing this information are necessary steps to determine effective responses that may help stabilize or reverse Minnesota's declining moose population.


Helicopter surveys during fall 2015 and late March 2016 (just prior to the new calving season) documented a 40 percent survival of calves to one year of age. That is nearly double the near-annual 26 percent calf survival rate in 2013, which reflects how these important drivers of population performance can vary annually.

2016 findings

  • As of June 17, 76.5 percent of calves born this year had survived
  • The average age at death was 6.9 days old, with the oldest being 21 days old
  • Estimates suggest that annual calf production has decreased from 3,894 in 2006 to 1,739 in 2016, largely due to the loss of adult females