ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A head count of Minnesota moose was up more than 1,500 this year, but state officials say it may not represent an "actual increase in the population."
The Department of Natural Resources' annual winter survey of Minnesota's moose population found an estimated 4,350 moose in the state -- up from 2,760 last year and a similar number from 2012, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported Saturday.
Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the department, said the higher count does not necessarily mean the moose population has grown by that much.
"The higher estimate this winter likely is related to ideal survey conditions rather than any actual increase in the population," he said.
Researchers collared 36 adult moose as part of a project to track their movements. The group of researchers is currently following about 100 moose.
So far, about 20 percent of adult moose the researchers were following have died, with predators, infections, parasites or injuries listed as causes.