Moose Population is Dying Off, and Many Signs Point to Climate Change
Climate change is taking its toll on the moose population of North America.
From the western provinces of Canada to the Eastern United States, moose numbers have declined markedly in recent decades. In some locations, the declines are startling.
Of the two separate moose populations in Minnesota, one has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, going from 4,000 animals to fewer than 100. The other population is shrinking 25% a year, having dropped from 8,000 to 3,000. (Moose hunting has been suspended in the state as a result of these statistics.)
Several factors may be causing the problem, “but a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change,” Jim Robbins wrote at The New York Times.
For instance, winters have grown shorter, and in New Hampshire, that has exposed moose to more ticks. Some animals have been found carrying as many as 100,000 of the parasites.
Milder winters are occurring more often now, which is bad for an animal made for cold weather. This development has led to heat stress, which can cause exhaustion and death for the moose.
Warmer weather has also triggered an epidemic of pine bark beetles, which destroy the forest. The fewer the trees, the greater the vulnerability of moose to both hunters and animal predators.
To Learn More:
Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists (by Jim Robbins, New York Times)
Re-Evaluation of Trends in Moose Populations in the Cariboo Region 1985-2012 (by R. Scott McNay, Glenn Sutherland, Robert K. McCann and Viktor Brumsvsky, Wildlife Infometrics) (pdf)
50,000 Plant and Animal Species Threatened by Loss of Their Natural Habitats from Climate Change (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
The Government Program that Kills Wild Animals (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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