Experts found that the population of moose is facing an alarming decline in North America. No clear reason has been pointed out yet but according to a wildlife expert, climate change, predators and diseases may be potential culprits.

In a television documentary entitled Moose: A Year in the Life of a Twig Eater, wildlife biologist Seth Moore shares insights on how to solve the puzzle of the species' decline by going into the wild and monitoring the mother and its calf, during its first year.

"The first year of life is the toughest for calves," said Moore. He further explained that the calves are vulnerable to health problems and are considered convenient preys for bears and wolves. Through his documentary, the events that transpired during this time will be more understood thus, providing insights on how to aid the animals.

Aside from the survival abilities of the calves, diseases can also contribute to the moose population decline. As per Moore, approximately 40 percent and 20 percent of adult moose are succumbing to death due to brain worm parasite and disease-causing tick spread in Minnesota respectively. Another 20 percent of the adult population is dying because of other health concerns.

Brain worm is spread by deer but it does not have an impact on it. Moose and deer have similar predators. However, the populations of deer increase with shorter winters and longer growing periods. Ticks rise in action with snow melts that appear sooner than expected. "Both winter ticks and brain worm benefit from warmer than average temperatures," said Moore.

In Canada, particularly in Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, moose populations have plummeted sharply. Moose killings by liver flukes and wolves have been observed in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Even vehicles on highways also contribute to the decline of the animal population.

In southern Saskatchewan and Arctic Tundra, however, moose populations have increased, with the latter seeing moose appearances in the last 30 years.

Ryan Brook, who was part of the documentary from the University of Saskatchewan said that although the decrease in moose population is not observed in all places, this news should still serve as a sign for action.

Brooks said this could have an implication that is hard to understand as there are no moose population standards in the national and international levels. Despite this, Moore said that the biggest factor for the decline is climate change, which initiates action from the warm-loving brain worms and ticks.

Photo: Steve Jurvetson | Flickr

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