State biologists are struggling to understand why Minnesota moose are dying.
According to The New York Times, half of the Minnesota moose population has died in the last decade. Biologists have a number of theories, but they are not certain why it’s happening.
One of the leading theories points to climate change. Minnesota has recently experienced shorter winters and longer summers. State biologists think that is having a two-fold effect on the moose.
They believe the hotter summers could be stressing moose immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to illnesses.
The changing weather is also helping to create greater populations of white-tailed deer, which carry brain worm, a parasite that wreaks havoc on the nervous systems of moose. Brain worm has been responsible for a number of moose deaths in the last decade. But biologists are not yet convinced that brain worm is the all-encompassing cause.
“I’m not necessarily convinced that brain worm is the silver bullet that’s killing all of the moose,” State Biologist Seth Moore told the New York Times. “There are a number of different issues.”
Those varying issues include changes in wildlife habitat, the mooses’ physiology and the recent varying weather patterns.
To greater understand the problem, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has spent $1.2 million over the last two years researching moose mortality rates in the state. They plan to continue the study for a third year. The study involves tagging moose with trackers to monitor their physiology and behavior. Biologists have tagged 36 adult moose this winter and plan to tag 50 calves in the spring. They plan to tag 200 moose altogether.
Why do you think Minnesota moose are dying out? Let us know in the comments section.