Bats are struggling to survive white-nose syndrome. Bees are battling several problems, known and unknown. Monarch butterfly numbers have plummeted this year. These creatures are small in size, but important in the larger scheme of life.
According to a recent New York Times article:
What exactly has changed remains a mystery. Several factors are clearly at work. But a common thread in most hypotheses is climate change.
Winters have grown substantially shorter across much of the moose’s range. In New Hampshire, a longer fall with less snow has greatly increased the number of winter ticks, a devastating parasite. “You can get 100,000 ticks on a moose,” said Kristine Rines, a biologist with the state’s Fish and Game Department.
So, death by tick, brain worm, liver fluke, or plain old starvation. Sounds nasty.
According to a similar report from Christian Science Monitor:
In New Hampshire, the moose population has dropped from some 7,000 moose to around just 4,600 animals. In Montana, numbers have fallen about 40 percent since 1995, and in Wyoming there are just 919 animals left – a quarter of the state’s target moose population. In Minnesota, the population in its northeast has been halved since about 2010, and moose have disappeared almost entirely from its northwest. Only Maine has seen an increase in its moose population, with some 75,000 animals living within its borders.
Moose aren’t found everywhere, but they do have a wide distribution across the north of this continent.
In the wake of those U.S. news reports this CBC article summarizes the animal’s population and general health across Canada:
While the moose population is stable in Yukon, some parts of Canada have seen declines. According to B.C.’s Ministry of the Environment, moose populations have dropped by 50 per cent since 2005 in the Prince George region.
Other regions in B.C. have seen declines of almost 70 per cent in the same time.
On the whole, moose populations in Ontario and Quebec appear to be stable and even increasing in parts, but scientists are keeping an eye on the situation in the U.S. to see what lessons can be learned.
Here’s a little more on moose health in Ontario from the Toronto Star.
Brant Allison, senior northwest regional biologist with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, says that moose “are important to the biodiversity of the province.”
Allison said he is seeing declines in Canadian jurisdictions near Minnesota, including Manitoba and the northwestern and northeastern parts of Ontario.
“We are definitely concerned,” he said, adding that biologists in Ontario have been in touch with their counterparts in Minnesota and Manitoba to see what the current research reveals.
“We are watching. They’re still trying to figure it out,” he said.
Stay tuned, I guess.
In Box readers, for those of you who do encounter moose at home or on your travels, what have you been observing, if anything, in terms of animal health?