Not on the loose: Dickinson area doesn’t have the habitat to maintain moose populationsSpotting a moose in southwestern North Dakota might be a rarity, but it does happen.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Spotting a moose in southwestern North Dakota might be a rarity, but it does happen.
In 2010 moose were seen around Dickinson and last week a moose was seen traveling in Fargo.
“I think moose that venture into southwest North Dakota are pioneering,” said Randy Kreil, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Wildlife Division chief. “They probably won’t be spending too much time there.”
There’s one thing a moose population needs to survive — a solid supply of water — and that isn’t found in southwestern North Dakota.
“Primarily they are looking for areas with water and cover,” he said. “Southwest North Dakota, while it has cover in the form of river valleys, wooded draws and some shelter belts, it doesn’t have a lot of water resources.”
The habitat for moose is virtually unseen in the Dickinson area said Dan Hoenke, North Dakota Game and Fish Department southwest game warden supervisor.
“There’s not moose habitat here,” he said. “They move through, but they won’t set up shop.”
The cause for moose venturing into this part of the state can be a number of factors.
“Moose have been expanding their range in North Dakota over the past 25 years,” Kreil said. “At one time, the only place you found moose was in the far northeast corner of the state, but as the years have gone by moose have pioneered into new and different habitats.”
Kreil believes the moose that people were seeing in the Dickinson were pioneers.
“I think that moose the people are seeing in western North Dakota these days are moose that were displaced from the river bottom areas south of Williston,” he said. “A couple years we had 70 or 80 moose in that area, when the river was very low and reservoir was low.”
After the Missouri River flooded last year, the river could have involuntary sent the moose south after the habitat was ruined.
“All those moose were forced out and a lot of them went south it seems like, but where they end up and how long they stay remains to be seen,” Kreil said.
The probability for a moose hunting season in Dickinson is slim to none. The NDGF Department doesn’t expect moose to stay around.
“I’m not saying that people don’t see them once in a while,” Kreil said. “It’s not a place where we anticipate moose setting up shop and reaching a point where we would have a huntable population.”