Moose were hunted to extinction during the Colonial times, only to return in the 1970's. Now, all over the United States moose are in an extreme decline again since the 1990's due to ticks, the weather and hunting, according to the New York Times.
In areas like Montana, British Columbia, New Hampshire and Minnesota, moose have been practically disappearing, and in turn affecting the forest ecosystem, the Times reported.
According to the Times, Minnesota had two geographically different moose populations and one of them has almost disappeared since 1990 with a decline to fewer than 100 moose from 4,000. The other population has dropped 25 percent in a year, declining the moose population in northeastern Minnesota to fewer than 3,000 from 8,000 moose.
In Minnesota, wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting, and in Montana, moose hunting permits fell to 364 last year, compared to 769 in 1995, the Times reported. Nicholas DeCesare, a biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is counting moose in the state in an effort to measure and explain the moose decline.
"Something's changed," DeCesare told the Times. "There's fewer moose out there, and hunters are working harder to find them."
A big factor is temperature. In New Hampshire, winters have grown shorter with a longer fall season. A longer fall with less snow increased the amount of winter ticks which are an extremely deadly parasite to moose, the Times reported. According to Kristine Rines, a biologist with New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department, a moose can get as many as 100,000 ticks at a time. The animal then loses large amounts of blood and may become anemic.
The tick also causes the moose to tear off patches of hair and scratch itself, making it look pale and ghost like, the Times reported. When spring comes, the rain makes the moose die of hypothermia because of the loss of fur to keep them warm.
Ms. Rines also told the Times that moose haven't evolved with ticks as deer have, and they don't groom them off as deer do. This has led to swarms of ticks. In Minnesota, the climate changes have made brain worms and liver flukes, which live in snails for part of their lives, and like moist environments, the leading cause of death in moose in this area, according to the Times.
In British Columbia, the decline is due to widespread killing of forest, making the moose more vulnerable to human and animal predators, as well as an epidemic of bark beetles, which was brought about by warmer weather, the Times reported.
"It's complicated because there's so many pieces of this puzzle that could be impacted by climate change," Erika Butler, an ex-wildlife veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told the Times.
Moose are also extremely hard to track because they do not run in packs, and also because so much of their body is made of fat causing them to decompose in up to 24 hours after dying, the Times reported.
There may be hope yet; most moose die during the fall, and in January Minnesota started an unusual $1.2 million study using advanced monitoring technology to find moose as soon as they die, according to the Times. Live moose are captured and collars are placed on them that give the animal's location every 15 minutes. Transmitters that remain in the body monitor heart rate and temperature.
"If the heart stops beating, it sends a text message to our phone that says, 'I'm dead at x and y coordinates,'" Butler, who leads the study told the Times.
Ehen a moose dies, a team on call rushes to the scene by car or helicopter.