Moose Die-Off- What’s The Cause

    October 15, 2013
    Ellisha Rader Mannering
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Moose populations are declining at a rapid rate across the United States, causing many scientists to worry about their survival as a species. Montana is one of the locations where the populations are declining the most. There were once two different moose populations that numbered in the thousands. Now there are much fewer, with one population dropping down to less than 300 moose.

Biologists are working hard to protect the animals and have gone to great efforts to keep track of their numbers. They are also trying to determine what could be causing these animals to die off in such large numbers. One of the most likely reasons is the climate changes. According to scientists, the winters in Montana and many other northern states are getting shorter and the winter tick populations are growing larger.

Winter ticks can devastate moose populations by spreading disease. They can also cause hair loss, exposing the moose to the cold and even anemia, making the moose to weak to find food. Other parasites such a brain worms and liver flukes could also be causing the moose populations to decline. Some scientists believe that the shorter winters are causing the moose to suffer from heat stress.

Deforestation of areas where moose live could be another reason for dwindling moose populations. When trees are taken, moose are unable to find adequate shelter or protection from humans and predators. To ensure that overhunting is not the issue, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have issued less moose hunting permits and created better regulations. With so many factors at play, it may take a while before biologists can determine the exact cause or causes of the moose die-offs.

“It’s complicated because there’s so many pieces of this puzzle that could be impacted by climate change,” said Erika Butler, until recently the wildlife veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Earlier this year, $1.2 million study using advanced monitoring technology to find moose as soon as they die. The animals are given transmitters in their food and the transmitters monitor vital signs. If the moose’s heart stops, the transmitter sends a signal and the scientists can quickly find the dead moose before predators carry away or eat the carcass. These efforts may help biologists develop new conservations plans to help rebuild moose populations in the northern United States.

Image from Wikimedia commons.

  • Ken

    Really??? Global warming? Warmer weather to blame? Then why did headlines read last year that Montana was in a new ice-age when a May 25th snowstorm dropped two feet of snow? You tree huggers better find your facts before you let your mouth run. Just last week North Dakota lost upwards of 100,000 cattle because of a snow? Get over this BS and do some real research before you let your politics show.

    • http://webpronews.com CHUCK WHITE

      Ken, you are a sad pathetic Tea Party nut..you watch too much FOX News and are brainwashed…what has happened to common sense?????

  • Mick

    Don’t know about Montana but the reason for fluctuations in the moose population in Alaska is predators, mainly wolves. When wolves are hunted in specific game management areas, the moose population stabilizes. When wolves are not managed, the moose and caribou populations decline.

  • Alex Williams

    Boris and Natasha?

  • Stephen King

    The moose die off isn’t affecting Colorado apparently. The transplanted moose from 1978 have grown to more than 1000. I know that’s not many compared with what other states had but the fact is the populations are increasing and, as far as I can tell from reading articles from the Department of Wildlife, they are not having problems with losing moose to diseases.