Minnesota’s Moose Are Missing, And No One Really Knows Why

Disease? Warm summers? No one knows for sure what is leading to the moose’s decline in this state

A moose in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve.
A moose in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. blmiers2

More than half of Minnesota’s moose population has disappeared in the past two years, says the Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, a striking drop that only adds to a long trend of the species’ decline in the region.

According to the DNR, a survey conducted last month suggests that there are just 2,760 moose left in the state, a drop from the 4,230 estimated moose of 2012. And over the past seven years, Minnesota’s moose population has shrunk nearly 70 percent. The natural resources department doesn’t really know what is causing the population to plummet, says NBC News, but they’ve put a freeze on moose hunting until they can figure out what’s going on.

According to NBC, the drop can’t be blamed on hunting. Instead, there are “a variety of possible explanations, including a tick-borne disease and Minnesota’s recent unusually hot summers, which moose don’t handle well.”

The drop in moose populations in Minnesota tracks similar trends elsewhere. In Canada, moose population are dropping from coast to coast, though some of this decline is being attributed to hunting.

As a species, however, moose aren’t doing that badly. The IUNC Red List has them as a species of “least concern.” Indeed, in Maine, where the moose is the official state animal, the moose population was found in a recent survey to be drastically larger than anyone had imagined, with an estimated 76,000 individuals.

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