Minnesota Moose on the Run from Climate Change


An expert advisory committee this week released recommendations on restoring Minnesota’s dwindling moose population, whose decline one expert said is related to gradual warming of the state’s climate. “The moose, of course, is not an animal that deals very well with heat,’’ panel chairperson Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University said. “We wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for climate change.’’

The state’s moose population is estimated at 7,700.  The northwest Minnesota population has fallen to about 100, down from 4,000 in the 1980s.

Other factors are also believed to contribute to the decline in Minnesota’s moose herd, including parasites.  A key recommendation of the panel is management of the deer population, in part to prevent the spread of brainworm from deer to moose, where it can be lethal.  The DNR says it will review the panel’s report before deciding which recommendations to support. A limited moose hunt would be permitted under the the panel’s plan.

A Minnesota DNR biologist last winter predicted that climate change might spell an end to the moose in Minnesota. “For moose in Minnesota…I think it’s too late and we will likely lose this icon of the north in the next 40 to 50 years.  I hope I am wrong.”

Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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