10 Feb 2010, 4:06pm
Moose Wildlife Agencies Wolves
by admin

Too Hot for Moose?

It started out as a joke. At least, I thought it was a joke. A spoof, a satire on crappy wildlife ecology. But evidently it was for real. Or surreal. The article:

What’s killing Minnesota’s moose?

By DOUG SMITH, Star Tribune, February 9, 2010 [here]

The bad news continues for Minnesota’s moose.

The population of the iconic animal in northeastern Minnesota has declined again, based on the latest aerial survey this winter by the Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife researchers estimate that there are 5,500 moose in that region of the state. With a 23 percent margin of error, the estimate is not statistically different from last year’s estimate of 7,600, but it supports other evidence that the moose population is declining.

“We don’t believe the population dropped 2,000 in the past year, but it’s indicative that the population is declining and parallels everything else we’ve been seeing,” said Mark Lenarz, DNR wildlife researcher. “Our concern continues.”

Reasons for the decline are uncertain, but researchers continue to believe a warming climate is responsible. Minnesota, already at the southern fringe of the moose range, apparently is becoming inhospitable for the large animals. Moose are extremely heat-sensitive, and temperature readings in Ely show over the past 48 years, average summer and winter temperatures have increased substantially.

Moose aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon, but as their range shifts north, Minnesota’s population could continue to stumble.

“People come up here to catch fish and see wildlife,” said Bob Baker, owner of Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground on the Gunflint Trail, northwest of Grand Marais, Minn. “The moose is the one animal people want to see when they’re here, and its decline could impact tourism.”

Already in the northwest part of the state the number of moose has fallen from around 4,000 in the mid-1980s to around 100 today.

“There’s more and more evidence suggesting it’s related to climate,” Lenarz said. Higher temperatures can stress moose, making them susceptible to diseases and parasites.

OMG! Minnesota mooses are dying from gloooobal waaarming!! And there goes the tourism industry right along with them. Quick everybody, change your lightbulbs to the twisty, mercury-filled kind and/or pay more taxes. Definitely pay more taxes. That’ll save the mooses and the gawker/gaper businesses. Oh, and be sure to hire more wildlife ecologists!

Some of my correspondents were less amused than I was. One eminent wildlife scientist was perturbed at the idiocy in his own clan:

Mike, the same BULLSHIT appeared in Bioscience, and in Defenders magazine, without one word about predation, and as XXXXXX pointed out in an email in response to this nonsense, moose are NOT declining in Utah but increasing because we have no wolves. Yet. If warming was really killing off the moose, you would expect that moose in the SOUTHERN part of their range to be affected first, but they have not. Consider the moose population in Alberta, where moose are increasing in the agricultural zone, which is poor moose habitat, while at the same time moose are decreasing in the forest-mountain zones — BECAUSE there are neither wolves or grizzlies in the ag zone, while predators are common in the rest of the providence!!!!!!!!!

Wolves? Eating moose in Minnesota? There was nothing in the article about that. However, you may recall [here] that last June the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. The usual suspects sued the USFWS for daring to delist wolves, even though wolf populations were burgeoning. The senile judge agreed with the litigious “animal rights” advocates.

Evidently, moose don’t have the same rights that wolves do, under our system of government.

We reported estimates that Wisconsin’s gray wolf population jumped 26% last year, with 630 to 680 animals in that state alone, the largest overwinter population count since wolves began returning to the state in the 1970s. Minnesota and Michigan also reported larger wolf numbers.

And the moose population has dropped 28 percent, according to the best estimates. If you can believe those numbers. The people who collected them don’t, but they do believe in gloooobal waaaarming. Go figure.

Evidently gloooobal waaaarming doesn’t affect the wolves quite like it does the moose. Not counting the moose that the wolves killed, that is.

Over at Powerline Blog John Hinderaker points out that the glooobal waaarming in Minnesota has been “a whopping one-half of one degree Fahrenheit in the last 50 years” [here].

He also notes that:

Here’s what puzzles me, though: isn’t global warming supposed to be-you know-global? That being the case, why are moose populations “burgeoning” in Massachusetts, returning to Wisconsin, “growing” in Michigan, moving into Connecticut, where historically they did not live, “booming” in Oregon, “resurging” in Vermont, “increasing” in Washington, “growing exponentially” in New York, “significantly increas[ing]” in Colorado, and “growing” in Utah?

Evidently those moose are different, a more warm-hardy sub-sect, or else gloooobal waaarming is confined to Minnesota and nowhere else.

Or maybe the predator populations are not booming in those states. Yet.

One thing is clear: the moose need a good lawyer. That and maybe we all need some decent wildlife ecologists on the job. One can always hope for change.



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