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Climate Change Killing Moose at Alarming Rate

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CMooselimate change is playing a huge role in the gradual population decline and anticipated extinction of the moose.

Minnesota had two different moose populations twenty years ago, and they were geographically separate. Since the 1990s, one of the populations has declined from 4000 to 100. The second population, located in northeastern Minnesota, has been dropping around 25% annually and has declined to 8000 to 3000.

Concerned wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting.

Why the sudden concern about the moose? Shorter autumns, less winter snow, and greater number of ticks due to the warm winter weather have all contributed to the demise of the animal. Researchers have counted up to 100,000 ticks on a moose, and the parasite can be quite deadly.

Moose in Minnesota are being killed by brain worms and liver flues, both of which thrive in warm environments since they live much of their lives inside of snails.

Researchers also cite heat stress as a killer of moose. Moose are cold weather animals, and temperatures above 23 degrees Fahrenheit mean they have to expend much more energy to stay cool, leading to heat exhaustion and sometimes death.

A recent study posits the decline of moose on the Cariboo Mountains of British Columbia due to the widespread killing of the forests by an epidemic of pine bark beetles, which seem to thrive in warmer weather. The loss of trees left the moose exposed to human and animal predators.

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