JEROME, Idaho (KLIX) – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said there will be fewer tags to hunt moose this year as biologists seek to address the animals’ declining populations in the Gem State.

Idaho isn't the only place where moose populations have declined.

In January the Fish and Game Commission approved a reduction of 171 tags. The department said in a news release, including antlerless tags in many regions of the state. Antlered tags were reduced from 669 in 2017-18 to 560 in 2019-20, and antlerless tags were reduced from 136 to 74.

“We don’t take lightly that there’s a 16% reduction in antlered tags, and a 46% reduction in antlerless moose tags across the state,” Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said in the statement. “Certainly, we would like to be talking about increases in tags, but it is simply not biologically supported.”

Fish and Game said moose populations have declined in many parts of the country since about the 1990s.

“Many things affect moose populations and it is not just Idaho – the declines span the entire southern extent of their range,” Schriever said.

Declining populations in Idaho were first detected in the northern region. Idaho is teaming with other states, as well as working independently, to better understand moose populations. The department explained that in 2013,

Fish and Game biologists collected 460 blood, liver, and fecal samples from moose harvested by hunters, which they used to evaluate micronutrients and parasites. Biologists are planning to collect samples from moose harvested in the 2019 hunting season. This time around, they are interested in looking at pathogens, parasites, and blood work. 

Wildlife managers also will use remote cameras to estimate abundance and cow-calf ratios and will radio-collar adult female moose in a number of places to assess their survival rate. If one dies, for instance, they will be able to tell what killed it.

During capture and collaring, biologists will also gather health information from biological samples and look at body conditions.