Scientists suggest that climate change is a probable factor, but pinpointing just how climate change affects the moose has been difficult. In New Hampshire, scientists have proposed that longer falls and shorter winters has allowed the winter tick population to bloom, the Washington Post reported. Up to 150,000 ticks can beset a moose at one time, bleeding it out until the moose is little more than ribs, antlers, and some loose skin.
In Minnesota, where the average midwinter temperature has risen some 11 degrees over the last 40 years, climate change is also a fingered culprit, the Minnesota Public Radio reported in 2008.
The state has been losing its moose population in the state’s northwest corner over the last 30 years – numbering some 4,000 back in the 1980s, the northwestern moose population had been whittled to less than 100, as of 2008. And it now appears to be losing its separate, northeastern moose population, as well. There, the population has declined some 35 percent between 2012 and 2013, from 4,230 individuals to 2,760 individuals, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported. Since 2010, the northeastern population has been cut in half, it said.
In response, Minnesota announced in February that its winter 2013 hunting season was cancelled. Instead, wildlife researchers swept through the state’s northeaster corridor, affixing GPS tracking and data collection collars to moose, as part of a $1.2 million, multi-year research project to investigate the causes of the moose die off.