Wyoming moose herds declining, but why?

2:45 PM, Aug 24, 2007   |    comments
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The Northern Jackson Moose herd lives in Grand Teton National Park and the Teton wilderness, one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states.

Becker began tracking these moose three years ago to respond to concerns about the vanishing herd.

Annual counts had shown these moose, like others in Wyoming, had been declining over the past decade.

"She's not too far away from us. Should be right up in there," whispered Scott Becker as he watched a moose in the wild.

In the spring, he checks in on females captured during winter and outfitted with tracking collars. Blood tests showed the moose were pregnant at the time of capture.

Now, he collects their droppings to test for a hormone that will tell him whether they are still pregnant.

Competing theories have emerged about why this moose herd might be declining. Some blame carnivores.

The grizzly bear population is rebounding, and wolves have been reintroduced in nearby Yellowstone National Park.

Others point to a lack of quality habitat since a related study showed some moose were malnourished.

So far initial results have been surprising given all the concern about moose survival.

"Based on everything we've found thus far it appears that the moose population in this area may be stabilizing or possibly increasing right now," said Becker.

(Copyright NBC Newschannel. All rights reserved.)

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