Text messages from moose?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Friday it will conduct research aimed at better understanding the sharp decline in the state's moose population. Through a combination of GPS technology and implanted devices, researchers think they can get a quicker handle on the locations and causes of moose deaths.
Researchers believe the study has value beyond the iconic giant of the north woods. The ailments killing moose could shed light on health threats to other species, including humans.
Wildlife resource officials plan to capture 100 adults and 50 calves in northeastern Minnesota. All of them will be fitted with $2,500 tracking collars and many will also have $900 mortality implant transmitters put in their digestive tracts.
Those with the implants will be the most valuable research targets because when an animal's heart stops beating it will trigger an instant text message to researchers. Then they will get coordinates for finding the carcass to help them retrieve it within 24 hours. That's key because moose organs decompose quickly or the animals get ravaged by prey, meaning researchers can't get a good read on what's causing them to die.
"We know the population is declining. We don't know exactly why," said Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's wildlife research manager.
Alerts from the moose with only GPS collars will go out if there is inactivity for more than six hours.
Cornicelli compared the technology to "life alert" necklaces some senior citizens use to summon emergency responders. "It actually sends a text message to researchers saying, 'Hey, I'm likely dead.'"
Critical thinking challenge: How does GPS and the implant technology work together?
Define these words: iconic, ailments, summon
- Posted on January 6, 2013
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