Moose Viewing

March 16, 2019

Though our favorite animal of the great North Woods can be found throughout the year, March is a perfect time to spot a moose on the Gunflint Trail. In fact, in late winter moose are common sightings near the Trail and the surrounding forests.

Salt is a key factor in why moose hang so close to the paved Gunflint Trail in March. The salt arrives by the plow trucks that keep the local roads safe, open and dry. However, the salt attraction means you need to slow down and watch for moose standing on or near the road.

With regard to numbers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources estimates there are 4,000 moose living in northeastern Minnesota. The state conducts an aerial survey each winter, flying helicopters over areas like the Boundary Waters and Gunflint Trail to count moose. The moose population was trending downward for many years but is now stabilized, according to recent reports by the DNR. This is good news for the moose population, but wildlife officials are still working hard to find out exactly why the herd is not as robust as it once was.

As for the salt that draws moose to the Gunflint Trail, a season’s worth of snowfall, plowing and salting area roadways is the magnet pulling the animals to the roadside. Moose have salt requirements and actually crave the mineral at this time of the year. They’ve even been spotted licking salt from cars parked near the Trail. In addition, cars that are stopped on the Gunflint to let a moose cross the road have been known to have moose approach them for a lick of salt from their running vehicle! However, this only illustrates the fact that it’s extremely important to drive with caution on the curvy and sometimes narrow Gunflint Trail.

With that in mind, there are many other areas near the Trail where moose can be found at this time of year. Many anglers report seeing moose near Gunflint Lake as the snowpack begins to slowly fade away later in the month. Moose are also common along ski trails and other passageways created by people on snowshoes, snowmobilers and other travelers of our enchanting forests here along the Gunflint Trail.

The Gunflint community takes great pride in the local moose population, so if you’re lucky enough to see one please do keep a safe distance and drive slowly so others can enjoy the same magical moment when a moose emerges on the Trail. And don’t forget your camera!