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Thread: New born moose fight slim odds

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    Member rugersbro's Avatar
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    Default New born moose fight slim odds

    Alaska Science Forum
    ASF#1967
    July 8, 2009

    Newborn moose calves fight very slim odds

    This column is provided as a public service by the Geophysical Institute,
    University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with the UAF research
    community. Ned Rozell is a science writer at the institute. This column
    originally appeared in 1998.

    Any moose calf alive in mid-summer is a lucky animal. If the calf was born a
    twin, it has probably seen its sibling pulled down and eaten by a bear. If
    the calf was born alone, it probably stood close to its mother as she reared
    on her hind legs and pounded a predator with her hooves.

    In late May all over Alaska, female moose find a secluded spot to birth a
    calf, twin calves or sometimes triplets. In the weeks that follow, many of
    these gangly newborns fall prey to bears and wolves. In most areas of
    Alaska, more moose calves die than survive.

    Mark Bertram is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist at Yukon
    Flats National Wildlife Refuge. In a study he did more than a decade ago,
    while a helicopter pilot distracted cow moose from the air, Bertram and
    others scrambled to birthing sites and attached radio collars to newborn
    calves. By following radio signals after the calves stopped moving, the
    biologists were able to find dead calves and determine what killed them.

    In the study at Yukon Flats, an area larger than Maryland where Alaskaıs
    longest river reaches north of the Arctic Circle, Bertram has found the
    remains of a majority of the 29 moose he collared. Fifty-five percent died
    in one month. Three-quarters of those baby moose were killed by either black
    bears, which are abundant in Yukon Flats, or grizzly bears.

    When Bertram approaches a kill site, thereıs usually not much left to
    identify the carcass as a moose calf. He said bears generally crush a calfıs
    skull to first eat the brain, tongue and other soft tissue, and then work
    their way back to consume the entire carcass. A moose calf is a major score
    for a bear or a wolf, as is seen in the woeful numbers of calves that reach
    their first birthday.

    ³Itıs real common for just 30 percent of calves to survive their first
    year,² Bertram said.

    In studies done elsewhere in Alaska and the Yukon, the numbers agree. North
    of Tok, 25 percent of calves collared survived their first year. Just 19
    percent survived in a study performed in southwest Yukon. Around 30 percent
    made it through a year in two studies done around Galena and Nelchina. Terry
    Bowyer, a biologist formerly with the University of Alaska Fairbanksı
    Institute of Arctic Biology, collared cow moose in Denali National Park and
    kept track of her young for four years. Only five calves out of 44 made it
    through their first summers. A vast majority of those were killed by grizzly
    bears.

    Moose calves are often easy prey for bears and wolves until they gain some
    agility, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Rod Boertje said.
    ³Caribou calves can outrun bears in 10 days,² he said. ³It takes moose
    calves about five weeks until they can outrun a bear. Theyıre vulnerable for
    a lot longer.²

    Boertje said the moose calves that survive are probably the ones that stick
    close to the cow no matter how frightened by an attacking bear or wolf.
    Those that let their mothers fight their battles for them are probably the
    moose that survive to be adults in a struggle that is lost more often than
    not.

    1967.jpg: Within the first few months of life, moose calves often fall prey
    to wolves and bears.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo by Leroy Anderson.




    1967_low.jpg

    Walt

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    Member Irish's Avatar
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    Good reminder of why it's a good idea to hunt bears. And a great example of how brutal life can be for these animals.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    also a good reminder as to why they are so prevalent in town...

    no bear, or wolves hanging out there. thus creating that myth... there are TONS of moose every where...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Red face

    Wow, what a great description of the realities of nature and moose calves in particular. The anti hunters and anti predator control people will never read that article. The internet and news articles are filled with pictures of bears rolling in flowers and wrestling with each other and thats how everyone sees them. Try to find a picture on the internet or news of a bear with a bleating bloodied moose calf hanging from its jaws. They are very rare because its only PC to show the cute cuddly teddy bear side. I mean Tim Treadwell did fine for a lot of years right????
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

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    Caribou calves are fast enough to outrun people in about 3 days (although I suppose that's not saying alot - lol) - I'm working on a research project this summer raising caribou calves and we went out and caught calves from 5 different herds in the interior this spring.

    Oddly enough, in one herd we saw a grizzly bear in the hills and there were no calves to be found anywhere around it. We spent an hour flying around in the helicopter with a secondary plane flying around as a backup spotter and there were none to be found.

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    Maybe some of the "anti-pred control" folks on this forum will read this!!!!!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Maybe some of the "anti-pred control" folks on this forum will read this!!!!!
    And on that note i see this thread moving....

    so WHO would the ANTI pred control folks be MT?


    possibly the one who speak against the use of Helicopters and snares?

    or the ones that speak against the castigated maneuvers. by national,orgs and other persons of Political influence, or back ground?


    I have yet to see any ACTIVE person on this forum. speak AGAINST Predator control... just the means of doing so... that could lead to greater headaches for us all to deal with...
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    More accessible areas need to be open to grizzly baiting. How many were killed for DLP last year around Fairbanks? Lots. How many did I have my bait last year and this year? Lots. Just my opinion.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    I have yet to see any ACTIVE person on this forum. speak AGAINST Predator control... just the means of doing so... that could lead to greater headaches for us all to deal with...
    I think most know who I mean. I have yet to see certain members support ANY pred control program brought forth by this state. Wolf, brown bear, black bear, snaring, etc. They have opposed everything. ANY pred control program will bring headaches, Vince. We expect to see opposition there. Disappointing to see such fervent opposition from some who call themselves hunters.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Default Wondering???

    How tramautizing it could be for the momma & calf to be seperated right at birth, then darted & traqulized, then have a collar put on...once the researcher & copter leave, & the poor groggy calf is there for all the world to gander, would be perfect bear bait...without the situation of being darted, tranqulized & collared, I wonder what the survivalbility of the said calves would be...???

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    Member BrentC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Maybe some of the "anti-pred control" folks on this forum will read this!!!!!
    The problem is that most of the anti predator control guys on this forum are making a good portion of their profits on big predators. If you move to decrease the predator population you decrease the amount of profit that someone could have made on each one of those animals.

    Unfortunately, the big predator business is very commercialized. The state sees too much revenue from predators to care about the less money producing critters that many people rely upon to feed their families.

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    Default on predator control

    There will be a bigger push at the next board of game meetings to legalize grizzly baiting in some areas. Unit 14B could really use help in that regard. The best idea I've heard for that is to have a registration hunt with a quota, along with a per bait station limit on grizzly. Once that number is reached, no more baited griz hunting. It could also be kept to resident only hunting. Of 3 separate baits that I had on or near Baldy, I had mom and 2 cubs on one, 3-4 year old and a big one on another, and at least 8 on the third one. 13 Grizzly on 3 sites. And I'm just one hunter!

    The article made a couple interesting points- in their studies they found 30% calf survival. And the study called that normal. Denali Park was closer to 8 percent. Prior to control being implemented, it had dropped below 10 in the control areas. So why not control?

    As to certain organizations or outfits taking advantage of predator control liberalities- why quibble? Bottom line- too many bears out there, and hunters are killing them to reduce their number. Done. Many hunters who are anti predator control in one breath are pro moose hunting and even pro bear hunting in the other- but are unwilling to take the steps proven necessary to get the bear numbers back down.

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    Default Wfff....

    You don't see any flaws in the study?

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    I had to read a 200 page book on the conclusions of every major predator control study done in North America for moose and caribou for a wildlife class I took. I just had to pull it out and brush the dust off it to look for a few things. The book, "Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska" was written by the National Research Council in response to a request by the governor Tony Knowles to do a thorough analysis on all aspects of predator control.

    Apparently, reducing bear populations alone without controlling the wolf populations as well did nothing. And even then, there was only an increase in moose/caribou numbers when wolf populations were reduced at least 55% for a minimum of 4 years over a large (10,000 square kilometers) area.

    The book reviewed 11 major predator control studies and only 2 of them actually showed an increase following a predator control program, however during these 2 successful programs there were both mild winters and reduced hunting pressure, making it hard to say predator control actually caused the increase.

    Also, it mentions one study where a massive predator control program was undertaken and prey populations numbers rose incredibly fast, so fast that they overshot their carrying capacity and there was a tremendous die-off of animals and the final population size was even smaller than when they started. Generally, when die-offs happen there is a new established carrying capacity which is lower than the old one, so even when the population recovers, it will never be as high as it might have been.

    The book goes on and on about its conclusions, and pretty much all of them come to the same conclusion that predator control isn't the miracle way to put a moose on everyone's table.

    Having said all that, I just wanted to point out that predator control does have its uses. For example, I read an article that the Southern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd population has been dwindling in size. Something about a certain parasite combined with a disease was causing spontaneous abortions in cows, and the ones that did survive to birth were of lower weight and in pretty bad shape already, so they were super easy targets for wolves. In this case, the predators would have just picked the next few generations clean and the whole herd probably would have died out had a predator control program not been implemented. This is a just use of it, I think. My own personal opinion is that if the herd ain't broken, don't fix it.

    A good quote I found from the book:
    "People naturally prefer stable resources, and many consider this a reasonable goal for wildlife management. However, in northern ecosystems, such as those in Alaska, major population fluctuations are typical; stable populations are not. Natural fluctuations are the background against which management must work."

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