The moose (Alces alces) population in bog and forest areas of Northwestern Minnesota has declined for more than 25 years, and more recently the decline is throughout Northwestern Minnesota. Both deficiencies and elevations in trace elements have been linked to the health of moose worldwide. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether trace element toxicity or deficiency may have contributed to the decline of moose in Northwestern Minnesota. Livers of 81 moose found dead in Northwestern Minnesota in 1998 and 1999 were analyzed for trace elements. With the exception of selenium (Se) and copper (Cu), trace elements were not at toxic or deficient levels based on criteria set for cattle. Selenium concentrations in moose livers based on criteria set for cattle were deficient in 3.7% of livers and at a chronic toxicity level in 16% of livers. Copper concentrations based on criteria set for cattle were deficient in 39.5% of livers, marginally deficient in 29.5% of livers and adequate in 31% of livers. Moose from agricultural areas had higher concentrations, on average, of Cd, Cu, Mo and Se in their livers than moose from bog and forest areas. Older moose had higher concentrations of Cd and Zn, and lower concentrations of Cu than younger moose. Copper deficiency, which has been associated with population declines of moose in Alaska and Sweden, may be a factor contributing to the decline of moose in Northwestern Minnesota. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Trace elements in moose (Alices alces) found dead in Northwestern Minnesota, USA