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last update: May, 29, 2004

SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

Department of Animal Ecology
Department of Forest Resource Management and Geomatics

Moose management in Sweden: High-resolution real-time
moose tracking with GPS-GSM collars




Swedish resource management aims to balance the positive and the negative sides of having moose in a landscape with active forestry, hunting and non-consumptiveinterests. A major focus of Swedish moose management is managing the interactions among people, forestry and moose. Research is a foundation for wise management and we manage moose because our society view them a resource in several respects.

Moose populations in Northern Sweden tend to gather in forest areas during winter thus increasing the moose density temporally and locally to high numbers. Areas prone to extensive winter browsing of moose mostly consist of economically valuable Scott’s pine stands (clear-cuts or young, regenerating stands). It is therefore necessary to increase the knowledge of moose movement at the regional and landscape level to better understand the movement pattern in relation to available winter browse. These insides will allow a better cooperation at the local and regional level between hunters, foresters and decision makers on moose management issues.

25 female moose were equipped with GPS-GSM collars in Västerbotten county in Northern Sweden (Fig. 1, 2 and 3) on March 1 - 5, 2003. Next round in 2004: 25 female moose were again fitted with GPS-GSM collars.

Fig. 1:  Location of the investigation area in Sweden (red symbol)

To date, moose tracking relied either on tracking techniques based on VHF-radio collars or in recent years more and more on GPS-collars. However, both techniques have the disadvantage that significant man power is required in the field to directly track the animals (VHF) or to extract stored positional data by a handheld local radio link (GPS). Previously, downloading stored data after retrieval of a collar from a moose faced a risk of total data loss due to both mechanical collar failures or loss of the animal. Further, spatial analysis of the data often requires considerable investments in GIS software and education. In this project we present a technique to track moose in almost real-time and show positions, movement paths and simple statistics with a web-based map service.





















Fig. 2: Eric Andersson from SLU is collaring a moose after darting from helicopter


The GPS collars acquire a position every 30 minutes and store them internally for later download. Further, each collar is equipped with a GSM 900/1800 (dualband)  module, sending up to seven positions each 3.5 hours as a standard SMS message to a GSM-modem. After receiving a SMS-message, the positions are automatically extracted and stored in a SQL-server database. Using a web page we then extract positional data for one or more moose from the database and show the results either as moving paths or positions together with simple statistics on path length or number of positions on a map. For extraction we use the ArcIMS engine (ESRI, 2002) in the .Net environment (Microsoft, 2003). The project is financed by the County Board administration of Västerbotten, the forestry owners association and the Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife Management.                        


Fig. 3: Göran Ericsson (right) and Eric Andersson from SLU taking measurements from an immobilized female moose


Maps of tracked moose will be presented with a several week delay in order to protect persecution. More infromations about the project and maps of the movements of all 25 moose are posted at:



New test collar on a moose bull

On May 16, 2003 a GPS-GSM test-collar with the newest GSM modem was fitted on a male moose in the swedish mountains (figure 4).
The GPS receiver takes fixings every 30 minutes and the data are transmitted via SMS directly to the office.


Fig. 4: The moose bull with the test collar. The antlers of the bull just start growing and are covered with velvet. It looks like a bubble between ear and eye.










Fig. 5: Localization points (n=4499) of the moose bull, connected in chronological order,  
May 11 - August 8, 2003



For questions please contact:

Dr Göran Ericsson (project leader)                  Goran.Ericsson@szooek.slu.se
Dept. of Animal Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU),           
SE - 901 83 Umeå, Sweden, tel. +46 (90) 786 9636

Dr Holger Dettki                                           Holger.Dettki@resgeom.slu.se
Dept. of Forest Resource Management and Geomatics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE - 901 83 Umeå, Sweden, tel. +46 (90) 786 7464