An extensive research effort about moose movement and migration behavior is ongoing in northern Sweden in Norrbotten. A study with 90 GPS-tagged moose spread over three reference areas maps movement patterns of adult moose over the year. The aim of the project is to eventually reduce forest damages due to moose browse. The reference areas are distributed in coastal and inland areas in Norrbotten. The research effort was initiated in March 2013 where 90 moose was equipped with a GPS transmitter in the reference areas Arvidsjaur, Överkalix (Ängesån), and Niemisel (north of Råneå). The project lasted three years and ended March 2016. The project has been prolonged, and the tracking devices has been moved to three new areas in March 2016; Haparanda / Kalix archipelago, east of Gällivare and south of Junosuando.
All reference areas experience major damages on young forest in winter. In each area, 30 moose are marked of which 20 animals are cows and ten are bulls. The final report of the first phase of the project (2013/2016) with the reference areas Arvidsjaur, Ängesån and Niemisel will be published soon.
The research project was initiated by the Forestry Hunting Group Norrbotten, the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management Norrbotten, the County Administrative Board Norrbotten, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Funding comes partly through the county moose management fund and partly through the land owners comprised of Sveaskog, SCA, the Northern forest owners, the National Property Board of Sweden, the Allmänningarna, the Church, and the Federation of Swedish Farmers.
- We want to get a moose population that is in balance with its forage resource. Today, we have -with few exceptions- too many damages by moose on young pine forest in the county. In the areas where we tag moose, we have high densities of moose in winter that cause enormous damage especially on young pine forest. Although the coastal country is not a typical area with large winter concentration of moose and that have high damages because of this concentration, says Marcus Jatko, hunt and deer manager at Sveaskog and Chairman of the Forestry Hunting Group Norrbotten.
- Previous studies have shown that some moose are in the same place year around while others migrate between their summer and winter ranges. Yet, we do not know how large the proportion of the population is that migrates and how far the migrants go. Here we want to have more knowledge, says Göran Ericsson at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
- Where the moose are during January and February, they are not in September and October when the moose hunt is carried out. We want to have a more even moose population among years and this way provides a better basis than inventories by plane, says Björn Sundgren, Game Management consultant at the Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management North.
Additionally to this research effort, two more research studies are currently ongoing in Norrbotten.
In March 2014, twenty-two moose were marked in the area around Tjåmotis. Like the areas before, this area has also received major damages on young pine forest in winter. Special with this area is that major parts of the moose migrate into the National park Sarek in early summer and stay there large parts of the moose hunting season. The research effort in Tjåmotis was independent of the project mentioned above, but data were analyzed in the same way and in parallel with other projects. The research effort in Tjåmotis was carried out by SLU, the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies on the behalf of the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten. The project lasted two years and was completed in March 2016. The project has been prolonged as well and in March 2016 tracking devices have been moved to a new reference area; Svappavaara that is located between Gällivare and Kiruna. The final report of the project's first phase (2014/2016) with the reference area Tjåmotis will be published soon.
Additionally, moose are tagged with GPS-tracking devices in the west of Kiruna around the village Nikkaluokta. This research effort started in March 2008 and so far 55 different moose have been marked. Currently, we monitor 20 moose (16 cows, 4 bulls). Moose in this area are part of a project that studies moose in mountainous environments. The project had had different initiatives and funding, and is now fully financed by SLU. A key focus of this project is to improve our understanding about how animals deal with changing climate conditions.
Please use the link below to see the movement patterns of the moose that are tagged in Norrbotten.