Tuesday, February 26, 2008

moose and climate change

Here is a story of very little surprise:

Minnesota moose study suggests climate change may be contributing to population decline.

Minnesota is the southern edge of the moose's natural range, and if the current decline continues the moose in Minnesota could be down to a remnant population within fifty years.

Moose are cold weather critters and get stressed during warm weather, and the researchers say that there is a direct correlation between moose mortality rates and how warm it gets in the summer and for how long. One of the researchers in the article says, "It would be real nice to find something else that’s the smoking gun that we could fix, but I’m not confident that’s going to happen."

Swell. Like I said, this should surprise no one--of course climate change is going to have a huge effect on animals that are highly dependent on a certain climate--but it's still depressing. Moose are in no immediate danger of going extinct--I mean, there's still a hunting season on them (although I wish the article would have addressed that a bit more, because surely that can't be helping the population)--and definitely there are other factors to consider, like the diseases that the moose are getting from deer (and White-tailed Deer don't even belong in northern Minnesota, people should shoot more of them instead). But it's just one more sad piece of evidence of how we humans are screwing up the planet. As temperatures continue to rise, the moose will keep heading further and further north, until they run out of north, I guess.

And meanwhile the city of Duluth is dragging its heels on ponying up some funding for a feasibility study for a passenger train between Duluth and Minneapolis, because who would want to take a train anywhere? Drive your cars and pollute the air! Make a personal contribution to global warming! Single passenger vehicles are the way to go! We don't need moose in Minnesota!

The only moose I've ever seen was dead in the back of somebody's truck. My parents and I were on our way to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and we were at a stop light in Duluth, Minnesota, and I happened to glance over and saw this huge, brown thing, and it was so big that my brain didn't recognize it at first as possibly being an animal--I saw the antlers and thought maybe they were some ornate scroll work on a a dresser or something. But then a second later the scope of my vision widened a bit and I saw what the antlers were really connected to.

Not having a car myself, I don't get out of the city too often, so I don't know when my next opportunity for moose-viewing will be. But I might have to go all the way up to Canada for it.

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