New Theory in Minnesota's 'Alarming' Moose Die-Off

Wildlife biologist: Brain worm may be behind drop in numbers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2014 1:06 PM CST
New Theory in Minnesota's 'Alarming' Moose Die-Off
A moose wades in a small pond in Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minn.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

It's a story that's been gathering steam: Something is killing America's moose. And as we wrap up a particularly frozen winter in Minnesota, where moose are dying at "an alarming rate," the New York Times looks at the seeming incongruity of the situation. Moose are creatures built for snow, with hollow fur that insulates them against it and a vulnerability to the types of pests that snow kills off. And yet this year Minnesota's moose, whose populations saw a 35% drop in 2012, are dying at twice the rate needed to sustain a population. One wildlife biologist has a theory as to why.

Seth Moore suggests this winter is an anomaly among a recent spate of warmer winters and hotter summers. This climate change may be compromising the animals' immune systems—while giving rise to a fatal parasite. With temperatures climbing, white-tailed deer populations are flourishing and so too is the brain worm they carry. Still, "I'm not necessarily convinced that brain worm is the silver bullet that’s killing all of the moose," Moore says. "There are a number of different issues." (More moose stories.)

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