Wildlife authorities have confirmed the deaths by starving of nearly 40 moose in north-central Norway, and fear the numbers will rise. A disputed reduction in hunting has allowed the moose population to grow beyond natural sources of food in winter.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Tuesday that the cadavers of 39 moose have been found in a relatively small portion of the forests of Hattfjelldal, southeast of Mosjøen. Siv Svendsen of the state animal protection and food authority Mattilsynet told NRK the dead moose, many of them calves or yearlings, were skeletal.
“When we find so many animals, and so young, it’s a sign that they lacked food,” Svendsen said. “This is enormously sad. The moose have suffered before they died.” Given the large areas that have not yet been inspected, it’s feared many more moose, at least 100, have suffered the same fate.
The animal tragedy has been linked to a conflict between landowners in the area and Statskog, the state forest agency that also owns large tracts of land. Arguments over hunting rights resulted in a lack of hunting in a large area of the wilds of Hattfjelldal, allowing the moose population to expand out of control.
Jan Inge Helmersen, forestry director for the municipality of Hattfjelldal, agrees the moose population has become too large and calls are going out for an agreement that would boost hunting allowances, before this autumn’s hunting season.