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      Moose survey hindered by January weather

      Michigan's Department of Natural Resources officials are citing weather issues as a cause for problems regarding the 2013 moose population survey.

      Officials report that the lack of snow coverage on the ground made moose hard to spot from the fixed-wing aircraft used to survey prime moose ranges in Baraga, Iron and Marquette counties.

      "For much of January, most of the survey area did not have sufficient snow cover to allow us to effectively spot moose from the air," said DNR wildlife biologist Bill Scullon. "Once we did get some snow, the air temperatures and wind speeds were too extreme to allow for safe operation of our aircraft."

      Scullon added that the DNR is hoping to get in the air now that the snow is here and finish counting moose before the survey period ends.

      The DNR stated that the moose survey was first designed in 1997 and January was chosen as the most desirable survey period because of the success in spotting moose that time of year.

      Officials are concerned that population estimates will be difficult to accurately compare if they perform a survey outside of the designated season.

      "Having reliable estimates of moose abundance is essential to making sound management decisions, including discussions about a possible harvest season," commented DNR wildlife researcher Dean Beyer.

      DNR officials said that 20 percent of the survey was completed in early January, prior to rising temperatures that caused the snow melt. Scullon added that the recent change in weather means that there is a chance they can complete the survey successfully.

      "We have staff and multiple aircraft ready to go for a maximum effort," Scullon said. "We remain cautiously optimistic that we may be able to complete the survey this year, but if weather conditions prevent that from happening, plans will be discussed to re-survey the area in 2014."

      If you would like more information on the bi-annual moose survey, check out the Department of Natural Resources website.