Jul 15, 2013

What’s Killing Minnesota’s Moose?

Chippewa National Forest, Bowstring Township, MN
Jessica Benko
Photo: Robert Harding, Alamy
Photo: Robert Harding, Alamy

The moose of northeastern Minnesota are dying at an alarming rate. The population has nosedived in recent years, dropping to about a third of what it was in 2009. In the past year alone, their numbers plummeted 35 percent, leaving only about 2,700 moose. That’s a mortality rate unseen anywhere else in North America—in fact, in other parts of the continent, moose are thriving. But something, or a combination of somethings, is threatening to wipe out moose from the North Woods in less than a decade, if the current decline continues unabated. Scientists suspect that everything from blood-draining ticks to brain-tunneling parasites to stress from higher temperatures—or a combination of all those factors and more—could be to blame