Climate Change as a Vector for Moose Mortality

547 WordsJan 26, 20182 Pages
Few sights are as iconic or memorable as paddling quietly and slowly along the edge of a glassy lake in the big woods of Minnesota, only to have the state’s largest native mammal rise up from the reeds and muck along the bank. The moose (Alces alces) has indeed become a symbol of the north woods, encapsulating the sense of wonder and enchantment that one so often feels while exploring one of the few truly wild environments left in Minnesota. Yet sighting these majestic beasts has become all the more rare. The hearsay and gossip around almost any small diner in northern Minnesota tells us exactly what scientific research has begun to confirm: there just are not as many moose in Minnesota anymore. Minnesota moose populations have a storied past. Fluctuations in total population numbers have been a natural and expected phenomena throughout history, but the scale and speed of the most recent population decline have more than a few local residents, researchers and scientists concerned. Moose habitat in central North America ranges from boreal and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests to mixed forest-prairie habitats (Murray et al 2006). Minnesota lies at the southern edge of the moose range in North America (Lenarz et al 2009). Once considered a success story for management and conservation programs, moose population numbers peaked in the early 1980’s in Minnesota (Lenarz et al 2010). Since that time, however, total moose numbers have fallen statewide in both of the state’s

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