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Dr. Seth Moore - Grand Portage Wildlife Biologist

Wildlife and Environment

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the far northeast corner of Minnesota, on the rocky North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues.  Dr. Seth Moore is a wildlife biologist at Grand Portage Trust Lands.

What's On:
Lynx tracks in Cook County. WTIP file photo

Growing snowpack in 2022 good news for some species near Lake Superior

Heavy snowfall near Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters region was the key topic in many conversations across the WTIP listening area to wrap up 2021.

Snowfall totals from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30 ranged from 18 inches to more than 20 inches for most of the area. The National Weather Service helped to keep WTIP listeners and the community informed about how the snow and weather was impacting travel and transportation.

And while humans dealt with the snow in their fashion, WTIP wanted to learn how some of the region’s animals were adjusting to the new snow. Seth Moore is the director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He stopped by WTIP at the end of 2021 to share an update with News Director Joe Friedrichs.

In the audio shared below, Moore describes how the recent snowfall impacts wolves, moose, lynx, deer, grouse and snowshoe hare.


Moose collared from Grand Portage. Submitted photo

Wolves could play key role in preventing parasite from killing Minnesota moose

A study from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa published this month in the journal Science Advances offers a new theory on the role of wolves in disease transmission among prey, including moose.

The research shows that nearly a quarter of collared moose that died in northeastern Minnesota over the past 15 years were infected with a brain worm parasite transmitted by white-tailed deer that is one of the biggest threats to adult moose mortality in Minnesota.

The study was conducted in and around the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation and near the Lake Superior shoreline, where researchers have for years been studying moose in an effort to understand and reverse a long-term moose population decline.

“Understanding the effects of managing predators and prey on the landscape is an area of research that needs considerable attention in an experimental fashion,” said Seth Moore, director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band and co-principal investigator of the project. “The results of the study really illustrate that predator-prey dynamics may impact wildlife disease and overall ecosystem health. Our applied research to restore moose in Minnesota will incorporate this new and important area of study for ecologists and epidemiologists by using approaches that combine predator-prey dynamics with the interactions of disease.”

For this study, researchers captured and tracked 94 adult moose, 89 deer and 47 adult wolves during the 2007–2019 study period.

The study found that most deer and moose performed seasonal migration, with different habitat selections by the two species. The research also showed that deer and moose overlap increased during the spring migration and summer seasons – a time of greatest brainworm transmission risk. Perhaps most unique among the findings was the fact that wolf pressure was linked to greater segregation of deer and moose across habitats – and reduced brainworm transmission risk.

“We often think of wolves as bad news for moose because they kill a lot of calves,” said principal investigator Tiffany Wolf, an assistant professor in the UM Department of Veterinary Population Medicine who was involved with the study. “But this suggests that wolves may provide a protective benefit to adult moose from a parasite-transmission perspective. Because brainworm is such an important cause of adult moose mortality in Minnesota, we can now see that the impact of wolves on moose is a bit more nuanced.”

The findings give state and tribal managers new information to consider in drafting and implementing herd and wolf management plans in Minnesota and beyond. Maintaining healthy moose populations is a central goal of tribal managers, as moose are an important subsistence species for the Grand Portage Band and important to cultural preservation.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with UM Professor Tiffany Wolf about the research.

Friedrichs also spoke with Seth Moore, the director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa about the research and what it means for management of various species. The audio to both interviews is shared below.


Moose cow and twins on the Gunflint - Photo by Colin Smith

Spring bear hunt in Grand Portage leads to reduction in moose calf predation

Wildlife researchers in Grand Portage continue to analyze data related to calf mortality in the region’s moose population.
Among the ongoing studies is one connected to moose calf predation from black bears.
Seth Moore is the director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He said in a recent WTIP interview (audio below) that bears have been a significant predator on moose calves in research at Grand Portage.
“We collared moose calves for several years and tracked survival and predation,” Moore said. “We discovered that bears and wolves were essentially taking most of the young moose in the population.”
In an attempt to reduce moose calf mortality from bears, Grand Portage enacted a spring bear hunt in 2016. The spring bear hunt is in addition to a fall hunt on the Grand Portage Reservation. In doing so, wildlife officials allowed for an increased bear harvest by approximately 20 percent per year, Moore said. As the data is coming in on how a spring bear hunt is impacting the moose calf mortality rates, Moore said he and other researchers were intrigued by the results.
“We reduced the bear predation on calves by 100 percent,” Moore said.
Wildlife officials in Grand Portage believe diversionary feeding by spring bear baiting could be contributing to the reduction on predation pressure on moose calves, Moore added.
The audio below is the full interview on WTIP.


Bull moose in the Boundary Waters. Photo by Kevin Kramer

Environmental issues bring attention to 1854 treaty rights

Dozens of bull moose in northeastern Minnesota will likely be harvested this year during a moose hunt by three Chippewa bands in northeastern Minnesota, according to local wildlife officials.

The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa will take a combined total of 20 bull moose across the approximately 5 million acres of 1854 Ceded Territory Lands of northeastern Minnesota, according to Seth Moore, director of biology and environmental services for the Grand Portage Band. Additional bull moose will also be harvested in 2021 by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The hunt will again take place this fall and the early part of winter.

In more outdoor and environmental news from the region, Lutsen Mountains would like to expand by adding more skiing opportunities to the recreation area. To grow, however, would mean use of U.S. Forest Service land. Lutsen Mountains is asking the Forest Service to consider a special use permit for the ski hill to allow it to expand.

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Forest Service published a draft environmental impact statement. This action opens a 45-day public comment period. After the public comment period, the Forest Service will revise the draft version of the environmental impact statement into a final version. The final document will be issued with the selection to allow an expansion of the ski resort or not, specifically Superior National Forest Supervisor Connie Cummins’s decision about whether or not to grant the special use permit.

The development of the proposed lifts, terrain, and guest services at Lutsen Mountains would require the authorization of an approximately 495-acre special use permit on Superior National Forest lands.  If approved, the expansion would nearly double the size of the skiable area at the North Shore skiing destination.

While drafting the environmental impact statement, the Forest Service developed a list of concerns associated with the request from Lutsen Mountains. Included among the concern areas is that issuing the permit to Lutsen Mountains could decrease, inhibit, or remove tribal access to resources reserved under the 1854 Treaty. The document reads that “construction of the proposed projects may reduce the extent and productivity of mature maple stands (sugar bush stands), wild rice waters, and hunting/fishing resources.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Moore about the intersection of treaty rights, the 2021 moose hunt and the possible expansion of the local ski resort.


Wolf caught in snare, rescued by Grand Portage wildlife biologists. Screenshot courtesy of Director Seth Moore

Grand Portage biologist shares an update on the 'luckiest wolf in the world'

What’s been called “the luckiest wolf in the world” continues to have an inspiring year roaming the North Shore from Grand Portage to Grand Marais.
WTIP received a call last winter from a Grand Portage area man who had a very interesting wolf encounter. Brian Neil, who frequently runs along scenic Highway 61, spotted a wolf in the woods in February just off the highway apparently in distress, possibly caught in a trap.
Neil ran back to his home where he had phone service and called 911 to report the wolf. The 911 dispatcher connected Neil to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which noted that because the wolf was on Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa land, the investigation would best be handled by the Grand Portage conservation office.
That led to a call to Seth Moore, director of Biology and Environmental Services for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Moore and a fellow biologist responded and discovered that the wolf had been caught in a neck snare. It had apparently traveled quite a way after being caught before the snare got snagged on vegetation.
Moore and his colleague were able to tranquilize the wolf, a young female, about 55 pounds, to remove the snare. While the wolf was tranquilized, Moore was able to draw a blood sample and put a radio collar on it. 
At the time it was caught in the snare, Moore said: “This is the luckiest wolf in the world, to be honest.”
Grand Portage Biology and Environmental Services have spent the past five months tracking the wolf's movements to see where it roamed. In the months since the incident occurred in Grand Portage, the wolf has likely had a litter of pups in a den near Lake Superior, associated with other wolves as they tracked moose across the landscape and roamed Highway 61 from the border to the outskirts of Grand Marais.
WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Moore about the wolf and its adventures exploring the North Shore in recent months.



Researchers will collar, study moose on Isle Royale in 2019

Moose and wolves on Isle Royale generated a series of headlines across the country in 2018. The federal government announced in March 2018 that Isle Royale's decimated wolf population will get an infusion of 20 to 30 new wolves over the next three years.

The National Park Service partnered with both state, federal and tribal agencies during the relocation process.

With several wolves already transferred from the Grand Portage Reservation to Isle Royale, more are scheduled to arrive at Isle Royale in early 2019. These wolves will come from Ontario.

In addition, wildlife researchers aligned with the project will embark on a new study in early 2019: collaring moose at Isle Royale to study their overall health and behavior on the large island in comparison with moose on Minnesota’s mainland. The study will be the first of its kind on Isle Royale, according to Dr. Seth Moore, one of the researchers who will be involved with the moose project.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Moore about the upcoming plans to study both moose and wolves on Isle Royale. 


Lake Superior Project

LSProject: Researchers focus on early life of herring to preserve historic fishery

When Lake Superior comes up in casual conversation, it’s easy to think big. After all, in terms of surface area, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world.

However, one fisheries biologist who specializes in lake herring is keeping his focus on something small as he and others continue their research on why this particular fish population continues to decline in Lake Superior.  Dan Yule directs his studies on the research vessel Kiyi for the U.S. Geological Survey. In June 2018, he was on Lake Superior waters near Grand Portage specifically to study young herring.

Working in conjunction with Dr. Seth Moore, the director of wildlife and biology for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the researchers continue to study herring in the Big Lake, as WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports in this installment of the Lake Superior Project. 


Lake Superior Project

LSProject: Grand Portage and wolves on Isle Royale

The federal government announced in March that Isle Royale's decimated wolf population will get an infusion of new wolves over the next three years in an attempt to control the abundance of moose currently on the island.

This was a story reported on by media outlets on the North Shore of Lake Superior, to the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and across the country, including stories in the New York Times.

Mark Romanski is the Isle Royale National Park chief of natural resources. He says the wolves will come from a variety of locations across the upper Midwest and Canada. Capture and relocation efforts will take place starting in the fall of 2018.

Romanski says park officials and others involved with the process hope the wolves will form packs that will help keep the island's abundant moose in check, preventing them from overeating vegetation and harming the ecosystem. As of June 2018, there are just two known wolves residing on Isle Royale, and about 1,500 moose. The idea for a balanced ecosystem would have more wolves and fewer moose.

Meanwhile, there was concern expressed from members of the public and from wildlife officials about bringing more wolves to the Isle Royale. Dr. Seth Moore is the director of wildlife and biology for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He says the band sent a letter in 2017 to the Park Service expressing their concerns about the reintroduction of wolves on Isle Royale.

In this installment of the Lake Superior Project, WTIP’s shares an update on the plan to reintroduce wolves to Isle Royale. 




Researchers share update on moose, brainworm study

As first reported in September 2017 here on WTIP, a University of Minnesota professor set up a crowdfunding site to help research the parasite that’s devastating Minnesota’s moose population.

Dr. Tiffany Wolf from the University of Minnesota set up the crowdfunding site to see if the public had interest in supporting her efforts to study the decline of the state's moose population. The parasite Wolf wanted more information on is called brainworm, and it typically breeds inside the brains of white-tailed deer. When the parasite passes to moose, Wolf said, it can be deadly.

In the span of just a few months, Wolf raised more than $7,000 to assist with her study. The research will focus on snails and slugs in northeastern Minnesota and how they might spread brainworm in moose.

Wolf was back in northeastern Minnesota this spring to continue her research on moose.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Wolf and Dr. Seth Moore, the director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, about the ongoing efforts to learn more about brainworm transmission in Minnesota’s moose.  



Wildlife researchers share update on Grand Portage moose

Dr. Seth Moore is the director of biology and environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Dr. Tiffany Wolf is a wildlife epidemiologist with the University of Minnesota. They make up part of the team researching moose on the Grand Portage Reservation.

In this interview, WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs speaks with Moore and Wolf about the most recent work that involves studying moose on the Grand Portage Reservation.