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article imageMoose populations on the decline, global warming linked

By Brian Booker     May 10, 2015 in Environment
Scientists assert that global warming is causing a mass die-off of moose, which are acclimated to colder climates. Rising temperatures are leading to a variety of health problems, including the increased spread of parasites and diseases.
In Minnesota, the moose population stood at 8,000 just a decade ago. Now it stands at only 3,500.
Researchers found 80 percent of the moose they were tracking that died, died from causes potentially linked to global warming. 60 percent died from brain worm, while 20 percent died from blood ticks. The remaining 20 percent died from a combination of both.
Both brain worm and blood ticks are linked to warmer temperatures. As the seasons have grown more mild, the spread of these diseases has increased.
Brain worm is a type of nematode, or round worm, that infects the central nervous system. Blood ticks draw blood from their hosts. In large numbers they can weaken even large animals, and possibly even drain them entirely of blood.
The Midwest and southern Canada have been hit by warming winters these last few years. This warmer weather can prove to be too much for the shaggy, cold adapted moose.
Researchers have also found that calves appear to be far weaker, and more likely to be abandoned. This has left the young animals vulnerable to predation.
Moose aren't the only animals at risk, either. A recent study suggests that as many as 1/6 of the world's animal and plant species could be wiped out by global warming.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, does not offer a specific timeline but suggests that some regions could lose as much as 40 percent of their biodiversity.
Tellingly, researchers believe that we are quickly approaching a point of no return where we will soon be unable to reduce or stave off the damage, and will instead have to choose where to allocate resources and what species to save.
The researchers note, however, that currently "only" 3 percent of the earth's species are directly facing extinction due to global warming. If action is not taken soon, however, that number will rise substantially.
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