The population of moose in northeastern Minnesota dropped by 35 percent since last year, prompting state officials to cancel this year's fall hunt and conservationists to blame warming temperatures for the massive creature's decline.

"The state's moose population has been in decline for years but never at the precipitous rate documented this winter," Tom Landwehr, Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources commissions, said in a statement Wednesday.

This year's drop in population continues a steep trend, the state said. Since 2010, the number of moose has declined by 52 percent. Based on an aerial survey taken in January, the new population estimate is 2,760 animals, down from 4,230 in 2012 and 8,840 in 2006.

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