On Migrating Moose and Migrating Temperature Trends

Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism


The biggest threat to the integrity of environmental science is bad science, exaggeration and fear mongering. The recent hype about declining moose populations is just one more example of global warming advocates hijacking and denigrating ecological science. All organisms act locally, yet global warming advocates quickly characterize any local wildlife declines as the dastardly work of global warming.

In northeastern Minnesota, moose populations reached an historic high abundance of 8,840 in 2006, and then rapidly declined to 4,230 in 2012. Most recently in a 2013-2014 survey, estimates dropped to 2,760 moose. Cause for alarm? Perhaps. But moose are a species known to naturally exhibit booms and busts when their habitat can no longer sustain a rapidly growing population. Instead of deeper discussions on the ecological complexities, but reminiscent of the fearful headlines that “children will no longer know what snow is”, the National Wildlife Federation (NW) bellowed “People never forget seeing their first moose. But due in part to the effects of climate change, it could well be their last. Moose are being hurt by overheating, disease and tick infestation – all tied to warming temperatures.” And to magically save the moose, the NWF encourages you to sign their petition to the EPA to curb CO2 emissions, and for just $20 to $50 you can adopt a moose from the NWF. Presumably the $50 moose is in its prime and carries fewer ticks.

The Audubon Society similarly published Mysterious Moose Die-Offs Could be Linked to Global Warming and climate scientists like Michael Mann, who has hitched his scientific status to “dire predictions”, wrongly connect declining moose populations to rising CO2. There are so many reasons to be revolted by their fear mongering and its denigration of ecological science, it’s hard to know where to start. For instance, the greatest spike in moose mortality happens in March at the end of severe winters. Milder winters can be beneficial. While alarmists blame moose deaths on “global warming”, the rapid decline in northeastern Minnesota has happened in a region experiencing bouts of record breaking low temperatures. Nearby International Falls, MN broke its record January low of -37°F set in 2010, by dropping to -41°F in 2014, which followed December’s record setting 8 days with a temperature of less than -30°F. Averaging local temperatures is likely as useless as referring to the global temperature.

Furthermore moose die‑offs are not global. Adjacent habitat in southern Ontario, moose are stable or increasing. Estimates of moose populations have traditionally been based hunters’ harvest and in Scandinavia, the annual harvest was less than 10,000 in the early 1900s. After a century of global warming the moose population reached an all time high with annual harvests increasing 20­‑fold to 200,000. Similarly in the 1900s, moose from British Columbia expanded into Alaska and multiplied as the climate warmed. In New England, moose were more abundant that deer when the Pilgrims arrived. But due to deforestation for farmland and overhunting, moose have been absent from Massachusetts and Vermont for 200 years. In 1901 less than 20 moose were believed to inhabit New Hampshire. But in contrast to fearful global warming theory and species range, since 1980 moose have migrated south from New Hampshire into Massachusetts and Connecticut, despite temperatures that average 4 to 6° F warmer.

Scandinavian biologists suspect the moose population may begin to decline, but their reasons illustrate the complex ecology. Increasing moose densities strain food supplies resulting in lower body mass, lower reproductive success, and lower resiliency. Moose thrive on vegetation common in regenerating forests that have been cleared by insect outbreaks, fires or logging. Scandinavia’s 20th century increased logging has now peaked and will decline, and so will moose lose habitat as closed forest canopies reclaim the landscape . Except in eastern Finland, depredation by wolves has been minimal, but wolf populations are now rebounding.

The best studied moose population exists just east of Minnesota’s northeast border on Isle Royale in Lake Superior and illustrates the boom and bust nature of moose populations. As moose populations globally expanded in the 1900s, they soon colonized Isle Royale around 1912 and rapidly grew to over 3000 by early 1930s. Rapid population growth diminished food supplies and a starvation crash happened in1934. Extensive forest fires in 1936 increased their preferred vegetation and feasting on young vegetation in a regenerating forest, the population rebounded until it peaked as it increasingly suffered from winter starvation. To add another factor governing moose population in the 1940s wolves colonized Isle Royale.


Virtually every college ecology text discusses the predator-prey interactions illustrated by the wolves and moose of Isle Royale. As observed elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, moose populations remained low until they began increasing in the 1950s. As seen in the diagram below, moose populations rose but also ebbed and flowed inversely with wolf populations. In contrast to suggestions that global warming is killing moose, during the rapid warming from the 80s to 90s, Isle Royale moose doubled their population, approaching a peak not observed since the 1930s, then suddenly crashing to just 500 in 1997. Moose have slowly rebounded since 2007 and are now at levels 50% higher than the 1950s.


In response to the dramatic decline of moose in northeastern Minnesota, over 100 moose were equipped with radio-collars that could alert biologists to the moose’s impending death, allowing biologists to account for the deaths of 35 calves and 19 adults.

– 16 calves (46%) were killed by wolves

– 13 calves (37%) calves died due to mother abandonment. Eleven were caused when the mothers abandoned the calve during the act of attaching the collars, 2 were abandoned later.

– 4 calves (11%) were eaten by bears

– One calf drowned and 1 calf died of unknown causes.

– Of the 19 adults, 10 (53%) were killed directly or indirectly by wolves.

Oddly given those results, biologist received a new $750,000 grant to study the effects of “global warming” on declining moose. I suspect it is politically more convenient to blame declining moose on global warming rather than to blame natural boom and busts, rebounding wolf populations, or researcher induced casualties.

Similar fear mongering blamed global warming for recent declines in New Hampshire’s moose. On a PBS Newshour, the interviewer interspersed interviews with researchers and Eric Orff of the National Wildlife Federation who insinuated that its all about climate change. Like debunked claims of Parmesan that global warming is killing animals in the south, Orff highlighted dwindling moose populations on the southern end of their range, concluding, “we need to put this earth on a diet of carbs, carbon, and bring back winter.” But New Hampshire’s average temperature has little meaning. Moose can respond to temperature changes by moving to different microclimates. Between a gravel road, open shrub lands, ponds, and closed canopies of deep evergreen forest, temperatures will vary by 20° to 40°F. A mosaic of habitats is more critical than a 1° degree change in average temperature.

In addition, Orff failed to mention that moose have been migrating from New Hampshire southward and thriving where climates averaged 4°F to 6°F warmer and winters are much milder. Orff also failed to inform the public about normal population boom and busts. New Hampshire’s moose population stagnated at fewer than 15 individuals since the mid 1800s and did not begin to rebound until the 1970s. As the climate warmed numbers exploded, by 1988 growing to 1600, and then 7500 by the late 1990s. That increase resulted in more moose‑car collisions and a public clamor for increased moose hunts. Perhaps because the public would be less likely to “adopt a moose” that needed to be hunted, Orff failed to mention that according to Fish and Game about half of New Hampshire’s recent population drop from 7500 to 4000 moose was due to a public safety management decision to increase hunting.

New Hampshire’s remaining decline has been blamed on moose ticks, which some suggest have increased due to milder winters. Perhaps. But moose also survive better during milder winters. On average moose are covered with 30,000 ticks and each tick can lay a thousand eggs. When moose populations explode so do the ticks. Unprecedented tick abundance coincides with unprecedented moose populations. Besides biologists have observed such parasite‑driven booms and busts for over a century.

Growing up in Massachusetts, moose were unheard of so far south. We travelled north to Baxter State Park in Maine to canoe the streams with hopes of seeing moose. Moose are indeed sensitive to warmer temperatures, so why would moose migrate southward to a warmer region that was also experiencing rapid “global warming”. Homogenized data suggested a rapid warming trend but as an ecologist, I knew homogenized temperatures are worthless for wildlife studies because the process eliminates natural temperature variations and alters the actual mean temperatures. However I also understood that trends determined from raw data can suffer from changes in instrumentation and/or changes in location.

I first looked at minimum temperatures for the only 2 USHCN weather stations in western Massachusetts where moose populations had been thriving since the 1980s. Both stations exhibited peak warming around the 1950s in the raw data, but after homogenization, that peak was lowered. For Amherst the peak dropped by 4°F. Onto the graphs downloaded January 10 from the USHCN, I superimpose changes in instrumentation (designated by the vertical red lines) and changes in location (designated by the blue arrows). But those changes did not logically or intuitively explain the newly fabricated warming trend or the cooling of the 1950s peak. (raw data on left, homogenized on right)


So I looked for a USHCN station with no such changes. Only one Massachusetts station, West Medway (below), had not moved and did not change thermometers. I assumed it would serve as the best standard with which to constrain any trend adjustments at other stations. Yet West Medway was also homogenized (below on right) creating the same virtual warming trend. More importantly, West Medway’s raw minimum temperature trend had the same basic curve as the 2 western stations.

The homogenization process for both NOAA and BEST creates a “regional expectation” based on similarities among neighboring stations, which in turn guides their temperature adjustments. But if USHCN stations are deemed to be of the highest quality with the fewest gaps and relocations, what data (likely much less reliable) was being used to re-create West Medway’s warming trend. If West Medway’s raw data shared similar trends with nearby stations, wouldn’t Medway’s trend be a reliable “regional expectation”? More troubling, the homogenization process undeservedly altered observed temperature peaks. Like Amherst, homogenization lowered West Medway’s 1950’s peak by 3 to 4°F, a lowering that was also applied to many other stations such as the Reading station (raw data left, homogenized right).



So I was curious how the raw data from West Medway’s nearby USHCN stations compared and affected the regional expectation. The Blue Hill Observatory (below left) sits just 28 miles east of West Medway and is a historical landmark that has not moved. Its trend agrees with West Medway, peaking in around 1950 and then cooling until 1980. However after 1980, due to changes in instrumentation, it is not clear how much of the exaggerated rising trend is due to climatic factors (natural or CO2) or the result of a warming bias caused by new instruments.

Taunton (below right) is located 29 miles southeast of West Medway. It too exhibits a peak around 1950 and a cooling trend to 1980. However once again the cause of the subsequent warming trend is obscured by the change in the measuring system. However there was one nearby station, Walpole, that maintained the same equipment.


Walpole (below) is situated just 12 miles east of West Medway and just west of the Blue Hill observatory. But Walpole exhibited a warming trend more similar to Massachusetts’ homogenized trend. Of which of those stations should anchor a “regional expectation”? Walpole’s raw data had an odd curve not shared by most of the other stations. Although all stations experienced a warming spike during the 1972-74 El Nino/La Nina event, that peak was typically a degree lower than the 1950s. However Walpole reported an unusually higher 70s peak suggesting that after 1950 the weather station had moved to a warmer microclimate. But the NOAA’s metadata did not specifically mention any relocation. Thinking I had missed that information, I rechecked. Although a relocation was not specifically mentioned, the GPS coordinates revealed a significant move in 1973. Yet comparing the raw data (below left) to the homogenized data (below right red), Since 1915 Walpoles raw data remained un-homogenized. Did the warming bias from the 1980s instrumental changes, create a confirmation bias for Walpole?


What I assume is a most reasonable method to quality control for a location change, I compared the differences between West Medway (the only unaltered site) and Walpole’s minimum temperatures before and after Walpole’s location change. Between 1905-1973 Walpole averaged 0.3596 +/- 1.07°F warmer than Plymouth. Walpole could vary between 2° cooler one year to 4.6° warmer another. This great variability is natural and expected. Depending on how far east winter storm tracks travel up the east coast, the battle line between cold arctic air masses to the west and warm Atlantic air to the east causes significant temperature changes. Depending on the depth and extent of the cold air mass, the overriding warm Atlantic air can cause different parts of the state to simultaneously experience rain, freezing ice, sleet and snow.

After the station moved, between 1974-2004 Walpole temperatures averaged 2.89 +/- 1.29F warmer than Medway, but with similar year-to-year variability ranging between 1.5 cooler one year to 4.5 warmer another. It is impossible to adjust for such local variations. But to extract a climate trend, it is reasonable to subtract the difference in mean temperatures before and after the relocation. So I subtracted 2.53 F (2.89-0.35) from all Wapole temperatures after 1973 to create my “quality controlled” trend (blue) and plotted that against the USHCN homogenized trend (red in graph above right). Unsurprisingly Walpole’s “quality controlled” data and West Medway’s raw data exhibit very similar trends with peaks and valleys coinciding with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).

So I more carefully checked the data from Plymouth about 52 miles to the southeast. Unfortunately data from the Plymouth weather station does not extend back to the landing of the Pilgrims, which marked the beginning of the end for moose in Massachusetts. But after adjusting for Plymouth’s 2 obvious location changes, in 1966 and 1990 (blue arrows), Plymouth’s “quality controlled” data revealed a trend very similar to West Medway and a “regional expectation” related to the AMO. Most interesting, once Plymouth’s location change was accounted for there was no instrumental warm bias. As discussed by Davey and Pielke, a warming bias [is] often associated with MMTS temperature instruments, because new instruments and a new location happened simultaneously. Insignificant location changes could cause a warming bias when weather stations were moved closer to a building and subjected to a warmer micro-climate.


It is highly likely that due to its effect on storm tracks and competing air masses, the AMO can explain most of the east coast’s temperature trends in a manner similar to how the Pacific Decadal Oscillation controls the USA’s west coast trends as published by Johnstone 2014. Unfortunately this relationship has been obscured by a highly questionable homogenization process.

To be clear, I am not suggesting a conspiracy of data manipulation by climate scientists. I am arguing that the homogenization process is ill-conceived and erroneously applied. Many local dynamics are overlooked by a one-size fits all digital make over. Monthly homogenization can amplify those mistakes and has changed trends from one year to the next (as discussed for Death Valley). Homogenization has failed to adjust for documented location changes, yet created adjustments to untainted data where none were needed. Before we conclude that global warming is killing moose and creating unusually warmer winters, we need examine more closely local dynamics and their relationship to landscape changes and natural ocean cycles much more closely. Understanding local micro-climates are more important that a nebulous global climate. While it may be wise to think globally all organisms react locally, as do all weather stations.


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Kevin Schurig
January 15, 2015 4:03 pm

How dare you sir. How dare you use facts to upset an apocalyptic proclamation. Keep it up.

Janice Moore
January 15, 2015 4:03 pm

Buy Jim Steele’s book!
{No. Mr. Steele did not put me up to this. As if, heh.}

jim Steele
Reply to  Janice Moore
January 15, 2015 6:25 pm

[Thanks] Janice. This Joe appreciates it.

Janice Moore
Reply to  jim Steele
January 15, 2015 6:52 pm

Heh. You’re welcome, NOT “just an ordinary Joe.”

Reply to  Janice Moore
January 16, 2015 3:55 am

Yes, a brilliant book of truth and science. My idea about environmentalists, thaty they were the lowest of the low, has changed, pity all enviro. wonks are not as truthful as Jim.

January 15, 2015 4:04 pm

They’re moving south in Saskatchewan as well – the southern grain belt has growing moose populations where they’ve never before existed. One theory is that the expansion of their range may be due to changes in agriculture, with modern “no-till” field management replacing mechanical tilling that left large expanses of open soil that moose avoided.

Reply to  Katewerk (@katewerk)
January 15, 2015 5:35 pm

Big Dead Animals?

Reply to  Katewerk (@katewerk)
January 15, 2015 7:07 pm

Hi Kate@SDA

Caribou move? Who knew? Can’t they model that?
h/t to Kate at SDA

Reply to  clipe
January 15, 2015 7:10 pm

[blockquote]Caribou move? Who knew? Can’t they model that?
h/t to Kate at SDA[/blockquote]
[You need to use the angle html brackets, not the square html brackets on this particular WordPress site. .mod]

Janice Moore
Reply to  clipe
January 16, 2015 8:53 am

Clipe, lol, you are so much fun. Don’t ever stop wholeheartedly being yourself.

Reply to  clipe
January 16, 2015 4:21 pm

Three years later and the great Tale of the Caribou remains my favorite global warming disaster tale!

Reply to  clipe
January 16, 2015 8:57 pm

I’ve known Anthony since his traffic stats were knee high to a grasshopper.

Mike Bromley the Kurd
January 15, 2015 4:10 pm

Global Warming is a great big non-sequiter. “Rising Temperatures”…..barely outside the range of instrumental error, and completely ignoring seasonal and diurnal fluctuations many degrees greater than the statistically-measured warming. It is hogwash, through and through.

Rich Lambert
January 15, 2015 4:16 pm

There is now an elk hunting season in Oklahoma. I guess that means the climate is getting colder since elk traditionally live north of Oklahoma. s/o

Danny Thomas
January 15, 2015 4:20 pm

Mr. Steele,
Is elaeophorosis an issue in the Minnesota and the northeast as it is in Montana/Wyoming herds? As a follow up, does this parasite occur elsewhere?
Thank you for this offering.

Reply to  Danny Thomas
January 16, 2015 6:25 am

I am not certain of the extent/impact of elaeophorosis, but am aware of a significant impact from P. tenuis where white-tailed deer and moose ranges overlap. Historic range/population estimates of deer and moose from Ontario show the two ebbing and flowing with each other. When deer expand north, moose do poorly, almost to exclusion. When deer retract south (multiple harsh winters, etc.), moose range tends to move south.

Danny Thomas
Reply to  MJB
January 16, 2015 7:13 am

Thanks for that. Wonder if that’s the same “brain worm” Jim referenced. Do you know if it’s white tail deer specific vs. Mule deer?

Reply to  Danny Thomas
January 16, 2015 12:06 pm

@ Danny Thomas
Yes, I believe the brainworm referred to by Jim in the comments below is P.tenuis. I do not have first hand knowledge of it’s presence or impact on mule deer. Wikipedia lists white-tailed deer as the primary ungulate host and mule deer as an “aberrant host” where the infection is in neurological instead of meningeal tissue. My understanding is the meningeal tissue is required to complete the ungulate portion of the P. tenuis life cycle, the other half of which occurs in slugs and snails.

Danny Thomas
Reply to  MJB
January 16, 2015 12:14 pm

Thank you. More trails to follow. Appreciated it!

Dr. Vince Crichton
Reply to  MJB
January 16, 2015 1:54 pm

Yes, it is the brain worm – the western distribution of it in Canada is Manitoba with a few cases in Sk – virtually 100% of the deer in eastern MB carry it while in the prairie areas to the west generally 15% – the latter is not good habitat for snails – the intermediate host

Janice Moore
January 15, 2015 4:26 pm

“Before we conclude that global warming is killing moose … .
… Understanding local micro-climates are more important that a nebulous global climate. While it may be wise to think globally all organisms react locally, … .” Professor Steele
Comment: This nicely exposes the internal inconsistency that destroys this particular AGWer whine which they style an “argument.” Looking at moose population “globally,” there are PLENTY OF MOOSE.
Sorry, Enviroprofiteers (a.k.a. windmill and solar panel “investors”),
you can’t have it both ways: want to talk “global warming?” Okay. Then talk “global moose population.”

Rud Istvan
January 15, 2015 4:44 pm

Jim, you nicely captured the climate essence, from moose to MMTS. For many more examples but without the moose, see essay When Data Isnt in ebook Blowing Smoke. Regards.

Steve Erdahl
January 15, 2015 4:56 pm

I have lived in Minni-so-cold my entire life (56). I own 360 acres up near the Canadian border and visit it often. The wolf population management “goal” was to bring the wolf count back up to 1,500 wolves in MN. The current count of wolves is much closer to 3,000 wolves. We have seen wolf packs crossing roads anywhere from 2, to 7 to as many as 26 wolves. The Deer population is way down too, wolves killing of Moose is likely a big factor in the decline. If 26 wolves go into an 80 acre section of woods what animal has a chance ?

Bill Illis
Reply to  Steve Erdahl
January 15, 2015 5:21 pm

Someone I know runs an outfitting business in a northern area. This fall, nothing was taken because the wolf population has taken everything. I mean this area was nothing but deer, moose and elk previously. How much do wolves need to survive. A lot. I imagine humans have always tried to control the wolf populations near them in order to keep game higher. But now the regulations forbid this and all those extra wolves in this location are probably having a very bad winter now.

Reply to  Bill Illis
January 16, 2015 4:00 am

Predator species numbers are controled by the numbers of prey species.

Reply to  Steve Erdahl
January 15, 2015 8:31 pm

The “excess” wolves will die or move as their prey disappear and the elk, moose and deer will come back. I live in a relatively remote area full of moose, elk, deer, cougars, wolves, coyotes bears and hunters. More game is killed on the highways than are taken by hunters. I had to stop twice today to let deer cross the highway in front of me. When I train my horses in the forest around my house, I often see carcasses that are being fed on, Yet the population of ungulates seems unaffected. I often see a dozen or more deer feeding in the fields by my house in the evening. And I see wolf, bear, cougar and coyote tracks regularly. The biggest issue is likely habitat. Many ungulates have learned to hang out near populated areas where there is browse and no predators. In the small town my mother lives in, there are deer that have lived their entire lived their entire lives inside the city limits. Adaptation and learning is amazing. (From Faraway, Alberta — and yes, it’s a real place.)

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 15, 2015 10:14 pm

“…Many ungulates have learned to hang out near populated areas where there is browse and no predators…”

???? Then hunting the predators keeps their numbers minimal near the populated areas? Including wolves and cougars?
Coyotes have no problem with urban environments and are delighted with suburban environments. It takes active frequent hunting to minimally control coyotes; they’re smart, learn well, teach their cubs and very very sneaky. The best way to identify them is by their yips, barks and howls at dusk and before dawn.
Wolves are not proud to show themselves where the coyotes are quite pleased to hide. Much like lords and ladies of the land versus the keepers. Still, wolves are just as intelligent and sneaky as coyotes.
Bears in the mid-west North are black bears. Opportunistic omnivores in every sense of the words ‘opportunistic’ and ‘omnivore’. Sightings are common, but even seasoned hunters know that wild black bears are good at staying out of sight. Black bear seasons are common across much of the black bear range and black bears have thrived under their management plans.
Black bears are happy to sort of become city dwellers, so long as they can get lots of trash or other opportune foods. Populated areas do not scare bears.
Cougars, lynx and bobcats can make the coyotes seem obvious and clumsy. As populated areas encroach on cougar territory, more and more areas are posting signs for keeping children and pets nearby and under close observation.
Now the question that your sentence above begs, is how those populated centers near you lack predators; especially with so many yummy ungulates running across roads.
Near one of my relatives, an apple farmer, orchards were sold to developers who promptly divided the land into plots and built Mcmansions; all the while leaving well grown fruit trees wherever they could.
Autumn came and the bears that knew where ripe fruit could be found visited the new development.
Bears rarely climb around the trees to eat hanging fruit. Instead the adult bears perch themselves and then proceed to pull branches with fruit to them, often destroying a fair amount of tree in the process. An orchard of a thousand, or more, trees only receives substantial damage to a small percentage.
Especially as the bears are happy to first chow down on the overripe and fermented fallen fruit.
Mcmansion owners dislike messy lawns though and clean up all of those nasty fallen fruit. Meaning that any fruit to be had was up in the trees. As the nights progressed more trees were plucked, leaf, fruit and branch.
Sure the owners called the Game Wardens, who took notes and shrugged their shoulders; no it is not their job to remove normal animals. The Game Wardens were very concerned whether anybody was ‘feeding’ aka ‘baiting’ the bears?
Along came winter and then spring; during both seasons plentiful deer, that normally fed and hid in the orchards, visited the development and ate pretty much everything green.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 16, 2015 1:49 am

Moose are very fond of apples too, as we are well aware in Sweden. And if the fallen apples have fermented they can even become aggressive, which a sober moose almost never is.
Though a friend of mine did have some trouble with a bull moose who had taken it into his head to dig a rutting pit on his (i. e. my friend’s) lawn.

Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 16, 2015 2:29 pm

Yes, “ATheok”, some predators are shy of people. Cougars have that reputation, but sometimes one wanders into the populated area of the Greater Victoria BC, in some cases perhaps because they can’t hunt well due youth or a physical ailment or territorial disputes. Wolves perhaps in between them and coyotes.
I challenge the claim that loss of habitat is pushing cougars into cities. Go 20km outside of Victoria BC and you’ll find near-wilderness, including an area humans are excluded from – the watershed for city water supply. Beyond that are huge areas. Animals look for easy hunting, balanced against risk. Or sometimes get confused – a likely reason a cougar ended up deep in Seattle WA on two occasions is following railway tracks the wrong way from Stevens Pass. Environmental alarmists avoid doing basic research.
Another reason animals like deer, elk, and moose are into urban areas is that the food is better. Some wildlife experts don’t like that, the eating is too easy and not optimum – they say.
Populations vary in their willingness to move. A ranger in the Tongas National Forest in AK told me that deer there won’t move far. (Young male animals often do, in part due to territorial nature of some species, but they find it difficult to get females to relocate to new terriroty.)
Those that don’t move are Darwin Candidates.
Beware too of narrow claims – for example, the supposedly resident orcas in the Puget Sound area of NW WA and SW BC spend much of their time elsewhere. Hint – food. (The distinction started with the contrast between families that only show up once in a while – “transient”, whose diet is also much broader, and those who regularly do – “resident”.

jim Steele
Reply to  Wayne Delbeke
January 16, 2015 3:29 pm

Alberta is indeed real and its the origin of Alberta Clippers, bringing fast and furious winter storms to the USA’s midwest. Based on the wildlife you describe, you must be living in an awesome area, and indeed changing habitat is the critical issue. And indeed many creatures adapt. Until I fenced my back yard, I had deer bedding their fawn in the back yard. They were so close I could see the rising bump in their throats as they raised their cud for another chew. And I winter just 10 miles south of San Francisco. I didn’t get to see bears and cougars until I migrated to the Sierra Nevada each summer.

January 15, 2015 5:20 pm

What an excellent article about Moose. Very sad about the calf abandonment from the radio collars.
The ticks and mange mites on moose and wolves can cause death after months of suffering. The wildlife also suffer badly from worms. But the ticks can cause moose to loose their fur and wander around like “ghosts” until they die. My daughter is interested in Isle of Royale and wolf introduction stories. Wolves are being reintroduced every where, even here in Washington state. They decimate the coyotes. Thanks to Jim Steele for a full look at an interesting subject.

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 5:23 pm

And coyotes help with rodents, while wolves go after live stock.

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 5:54 pm

“Yes, wolves kill livestock, but not to the degree extremists would have you believe. For example, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2005 wolves killed 244 sheep in Idaho. In 2006, 237 sheep in Idaho were killed by wolves, while in 2007, 185 sheep were killed by wolves across the state.
Compare those numbers to other causes of death for sheep in Idaho in 2004 (the last year for which complete statistics are available):
Overall sheep deaths were reportedly due to:
digestive problems: 1,600
respiratory disease: 1,300
birthing problems: 1,100
miscellaneous health problems: 3,200
predators (all combined): 12,100 *
harsh weather: 600
poisoning: 800
* Sheep deaths due to predators represented 55 percent of overall losses.
Predator depredation deaths included:
coyotes: 7,100 sheep
dogs: 1,400 sheep
bears: 1,100 sheep
mountain lions: 400 sheep
wolves: 270 sheep”
This is for the surrounding Yellowstone region, which has an unnaturally thick wolf population (interestingly, it has the smallest recorded territory size for a wolf pack, 20 miles).
Though I’m sure wolves are the main percentage of deaths caused by large predators in relation to larger livestock, such as beef or dairy cattle. Ranchers accustomed to the presence of wolves have less of an issue with them, and practice lethal methods (which I have no issue with) as well non-lethal defense methods against them more commonly (dogs are gaining popularity).
An interesting link if you’re interested in further damage caused by these rascally little guys.

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 7:51 pm

I just found out that is my daughter! XD
She is our resident expert on wolves. But I am still on Team Coyote for Washington state. (;
Maybe we can agree these are beautiful creatures:
She says a cross between a grey wolf and a coyote in the wild is called a coywolf.
I don’t know how many chickens they eat in Idaho though, sorry.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 9:26 pm

That is so cool, Zeke (smile). You and Sam make a good team!

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 10:23 pm

And your sources are?
USFWS is not interested in the problems of ranchers. Their source of data may well be where ranchers have applied for recompense or permission to hunt rogues. There is a limited amount of compensation funds available yearly; one that fund is empty there is little reason to ‘fill out government’ paperwork.
Check with the CO-OPS and rancher groups in Idaho.

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 10:53 pm

Just a quick check:
2004 wolves killed 360* sheep in Summer Idaho.
2005 wolves killed 250* sheep in Summer Idaho.
2006 wolves killed 330* sheep in Summer Idaho.
2007 wolves killed 335* sheep in Summer Idaho.
* estimated from graph
Note the “…in summer…” modifier!
There are mentions in the USDA literature that the numbers predated continue to escalate right up to the current time; but you can dig further, all I needed was to know your numbers were bogus. When you get the full year numbers, the real numbers not from the green blobs or the green blob contaminated, let us know.
There is also information about the cattle industry and what damages wolf predation and herd harassment causes.

Reply to  Zeke
January 16, 2015 12:41 pm

Now you see how I have to watch what I say about wolves around here! Many thanks for the book recommends, Janice.

You will notice that she already mentioned that the wolves are more a problem for the cattle and she supports farmers who have to shoot the wolves.
We took her to Wolf Haven to see the wolves, and we got her a toy stuffed wolf. She was wondering what she was going to name it. So I said, “How about One-Billion-Dollar-Federal-Program?!” I could not even complete the tour through the Haven it was so environmentally preachy. Coyote is ubiquitous in the Indian legends all over this country, and esp. up here, so we know that he is more native than wolf, although wolves were eradicated in some areas. Thanks for your article. I did learn that ranchers can use wolf feces to scatter around their range lands. This makes wolves think they are on the territory of another pack.
But she ended up naming her wolf “Mech.” (:
To “Sam” ~
Nicely done!
~Sun Tzu

Reply to  Zeke
January 16, 2015 2:15 pm

I am not facetiously confronting Sam; her sources were suspect and I did challenge her.
Perhaps the fault is not hers at all, as many people would think an agency like the USFWS should be honest and accurate. Unfortunately, the USFWS is infected with the green blobs, especially as the FWS is under no directive to track wolf predation numbers on ranched animals. Their information is tertiary to tracking wolf actions, especially wolf/human interactions that may endanger wolves. USFWS is one of the agencies that participates in the ‘sue and settle’ encroachment on freedoms.
You have every right to be proud of Sam, her interest and her desire to discover the truth underlying many so called research areas where politics or ignorance, (e.g. belief), drives the research and not a desire for knowledge.
Heck, now that you’ve explained Sam’s interest and attention, I and many of WUWT’s denizens share your pride. Sam is a superb example of a bright open mind encountering open science presentation and discussion; discussion that you personally brought to her even in preachy wolf/coyote parks.
Though ‘Mech’ does seem to indicate a child with engineering blood in her.
Side notes; the extreme rapidity of coyote’s spread across Eastern America, including cities, led some researcher to theorize that eastern coyotes were different. Where it had been assumed that size differences and coloration from western coyotes were dietary and breeding lines, perhaps they’ve been infused with other canine DNA.
Tests on several coyotes confirmed that many if not all eastern coyotes included red wolf DNA, a larger perhaps more intelligent coyote with somewhat different pack organizations.
The Rappahannock river runs close by. When we moved here I could easily observe the milky way across the sky and I don’t believe coyotes had reached us yet.
Beavers were a problem in many areas as they happily tried to dam up almost any water flow.
Within a few years, there were different sounds in the hours before dawn. One could hear the alien yips and howls as the pack ran down or up the river.
Amazingly, it sounds to me that they’re just having fun many times. I’ve walked or waded that same territory and I find it amazing that these coyotes easily cover, what takes me hours to walk, in minutes.
Beavers are not quite the problem they were anymore; the same goes with foxes, foxes seem to have gotten scarce.

Reply to  Zeke
January 16, 2015 2:08 am

Abandonment is very common in deer and some other mammal species after human handling. It seems that smell is an important factor. On the other hand it is very rarely or never a problem with birds, which are vision-oriented. Birds naturally are quite disturbed while their young is being handled (though long-lived birds can get habituated to it), but they calm down and resume normal behavior very quickly once the young are released or put back in the nest.

Chuck Wiese
January 15, 2015 5:31 pm

The author states: “To be clear, I am not suggesting a conspiracy of data manipulation by climate scientists. I am arguing that the homogenization process is ill-conceived and erroneously applied.”
Personally, I think it is time to call a spade a spade. There are so many examples of data manipulation through homogenization of the temperature sets it is deplorable. And it is just that because the algorithm’s are guessing about data sparse areas. And ALL give spurious warming trends when applied to raw data.
The question needs to be asked: Would these “climate scientists” be using any of the homogenization algorithms if the result produced a cooling trend? I think we all know the answer to that.
“Climate science” has lowered itself into the abyss of being one of the most fraudulent and laughable “sciences” ever. And unfortunately, we find the majority of the “mistakes” coming out of major public universities funded by taxpayers that have the outward appearance of giving politicians the ammunition they seek to invent absurdities like the carbon tax, which does nothing for the climate or free air CO2 concentration, it is grounded in fraud and is stealing from people based upon its stated objectives.
This is religion, not science, and the truth is relative to the money the scam generates.
Chuck Wiese

jim Steele
Reply to  Chuck Wiese
January 16, 2015 10:54 am

Chuck, I too wonder how much of the bad data homogenization is driven by a bad algorithm vs confirmation bias vs dishonest manipulation in order to back a theory some one has invested in . As I argued on polar bear research (http://landscapesandcycles.net/blind-polar-bear-researchers.html) , and Parmesan’s butterfly work (http://landscapesandcycles.net/American_Meterological_Society_half-truth.html), in both cases it is clear they knowingly skewed their analyses via sins of omission. However in this post, due to the lack of transparency regards the creation of their algorithms, I don’t know enough about it to argue deliberate obfuscation regards homogenizing Massachusetts temperature data. I could only point out its flaws and the resulting misdirection regards natural causes of the region’s climate change. Either way Congress should investigate those failings.
BTW Have you given an updated version of your presentation on changes in global water vapor? It really appears that water vapor is driven by El Nino and the PDO, not CO2. If the trend in declining water vapor has continued since the 1998 El Nino, it takes away the whole basis by which warmists argue CO2 causes more extreme weather.

January 15, 2015 5:31 pm

Of course, natural fluctuations in animal populations will be seized upon by the alarmists and cranked through the propaganda mill.
Coming next:
Scientists say climate change causes lemmings to jump into the sea and drown.

Sweet Old Bob
January 15, 2015 5:41 pm

IMO we should give these climate flockers the same “eye” that the moose pictured above gave to the photographer !

Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
January 16, 2015 12:55 pm

Researchers, fear the Psycho Moose Mama!

January 15, 2015 5:45 pm

On average moose are covered with 30,000 ticks and each tick can lay a thousand eggs. . .

Yikes! One tick crawling on my skin is enough to make my skin crawl! So for that matter does your report on “homogenization” of the local temperature data. You did not describe what formulae or algorithms the Powers That Be are using to “homogenize” the data; I gather at a minimum they are averaging it over an entire region, which given the local micro-climate variation is equivalent to suppressing the data. The idea that this fudged data can somehow explain local variations in animal populations is ludicrous.
I would assume, naively I suppose, that students of local ecology would want to get into the local micro-climate nitty-gritty as you do. Foregoing that microscope in favor of glib regional generalization would seem to be the antithesis of careful science. Have the university departments been so skewed by the prevailing “climate change” dogma that they see only an abstract landscape, and miss all those critters—and their ticks?
/Mr Lynn

jim Steele
January 15, 2015 6:23 pm

Thanks for the kind words. But I must [apologize] for [the] numerous typos. After 2 edits I go blind to the actual wording. I should have put it aside for another [date] and [given] the essay another read through but I was [too] impatient to post.
@Danny Thomas based on my literature reviews I found little mention of elaeophorosis in Minnesota. Moose ticks and moose brainworms were a much bigger issue. One study suggested 38% of moose deaths in Michigan were attributable brain worm. Deer serve as reservoirs for both brain worms and the filarial worm that causes elaeophorosis, so I would not be surprised if it is found in Minnesota, I just have not investigated it.

jim Steele
Reply to  jim Steele
January 15, 2015 6:28 pm

and I should have read my apology before posting.

Danny Thomas
Reply to  jim Steele
January 15, 2015 7:20 pm

38% mortality due to brain worms? Think I’d start looking there for problems with the broader population. Starting with known issues, wonder if that could be applied elsewhere in the overall CC & policy discussion?
Maybe Macinack Island is a place to start. No worries about auto/moose collisions there. Bicycles wouldn’t stand a chance.
Thanks again!

January 15, 2015 6:30 pm

good lord…my in-laws in Newfoundland have [too] many. The number of vehicle accidentals is brutal. A class action lawsuit against the gov’t didn’t go anywhere, but my brothers-in-laws get a moose just about every year…..there are ‘tons’ of them out there. No problem with the population out there…

January 15, 2015 6:33 pm

. . . I must apologized for numerous typos. After 2 edits I go blind to the actual wording. I should have put it aside for another dat and gave the essay another read through but I was impatient to post. . .

Yep, three typos in those three sentences. Secret of proofing is to give a draft to someone else. Nothing like fresh eyes to catch ’em.
/Mr Lynn
[Four, actually. But who’s counting? .mod]

jim Steele
Reply to  L. E. Joiner
January 15, 2015 6:54 pm

True, but I hate to impose.
[The mods ain’t gonna spell check brainworms, moose ticks, filarial worms nor elaeophorosis. Elephants we’re good for. .mod]

Danny Thomas
Reply to  jim Steele
January 15, 2015 7:24 pm

Looks like you dun good! Keep up the good werk!
[Ask not for whom the mod toils … Lest he troll for you. .mod]

Reply to  L. E. Joiner
January 15, 2015 8:30 pm

Mod: Leaving out ‘the’ and ‘too’ were not strictly speaking errors. If they were, it would have made five. But who’s counting?
Jim: If you could wait a day or two (or three) between draft and publication, I could proofread for you.
[Show off. .mod]

jim Steele
Reply to  L. E. Joiner
January 15, 2015 9:10 pm

L.E. I may need to take you up on your offer.

January 15, 2015 6:51 pm

Thanks, Dr. Steele.
You offer fascinating ways to learn about nature.

January 15, 2015 7:00 pm

Yes the Newfoundland experience with moose is interesting. The government introduced them to the island where none had existed before and their population exploded.
It was individuals crippled from automobile collisions with moose who launched the class-action lawsuit.

Steve in SC
January 15, 2015 7:06 pm

Wasn’t Bullwinkle and Rocky from Frostbite Falls?
Sadly, Rocky and Bullwinkle are no more.

January 15, 2015 7:09 pm

Sorry for this, but while we’re talking about typos and such…
Do those that object to the expression ‘bad data’ also object to ‘bad science’, as written in the opening line?
I certainly don’t. It couldn’t be more clear.
As for moose, here in BC there’s thought to have been a decline in the middle of the province of maybe 50%. A computer model study is proposed and predator scat analysis to identify the cause. We are not at the southernmost extreme of the animal’s range.
Our gov. is also initiating a helicopter-based wolf cull to bolster dwindling caribou numbers. They are not presuming to blame wolves, I believe, but think that it will help anyway.

January 15, 2015 7:35 pm

Jim’s discussion of the problem created by the homogenization process shows exactly why the satellite data is the best for investigating global temperature trends. See
for what me might call “ peak heat “ of the millennial trend in about 2003.
The RSS satellite data provides a consistent record of relative temperature trends since 1979. The non satellite data has been homogenized, reanalyzed and changed by adjustment algorithms so as to be highly suspect.
Section 2 at
shows that the earth is entering a cooling trend which will possibly last for 600 years.
This link also provides more detailed forecasts of the timing and extent of the coming cooling.A noticeable cooling forecast for 2017-18 is based on the sharp drop in the Ap Index from 2005-6. (See Fig 13 in the linked post.
It will be interesting to see what will happen to moose populations in Minnesota and Minnesota if this cooling actually occurs – will moose in the forest respond like the canary down the mine?

Reg Nelson
Reply to  Dr Norman Page
January 15, 2015 8:12 pm

In addition to that, USCRN was established to be the premier, pristine, gold standard LST (Land Surface Temperature) data set.
Unfortunately. for the Carbon Fear Mongers it hasn’t worked out so well. USCRN, since it was fully implemented in 2005, has shown a cooling trend, and, as such, has received little scientific or media attention.
Granted the data only covers the United States and only for a very short period of time, but it begs some questions:
How global is global warming?
And how do GISS, NOAA, and HadCrut surface temperature data sets for the US compare to USCRN? And if they differ, why?

January 15, 2015 8:08 pm

Funny thing about Moose, they aren’t always the smartest thing on 4 legs in the woods. A few years back a Male Moose around about Syracuse NY took a particular liking to a domesticated Bovine of the female persuasion, just hung out all the time outside the farmers fenced field, “stalking” her as it where. The “folks in charge” decided this was “unwise” (aka: stupid moose) and decided to catch him and truck him back to the Adirondacks where he obliviously “belonged”. Of course he could not stop pining for his true love and came back the very next year. I think this repeated for a few years until finally a Moose of the female persuasion back in home territory “caught his eye”.
No details are available about Moose/Bovine hybrids, so it appears the longing was not reciprocal.
Cheers, KevinK

Reply to  KevinK
January 15, 2015 8:37 pm

I tried to find a reference for the above story without success so far. But the research I did do seems to indicate that as the territory of Moose expands the young males move further away from “home base” first, leaving the bachelorettes behind. So the individual in the above story may have simply wandered into a “boys only” area of the expanding Moose territory and saw what resembled a female Moose, well a Cow could look like a lady Moose if you are eyesight challenged, and maybe she was a nice alluring dark brown color ?
It is a true story, it has to be out there somewhere in an old newspaper clipping (in the 1990’s, I think).
Cheers, KevinK

jim Steele
Reply to  KevinK
January 15, 2015 9:05 pm

Thanks Kevin. I do remember that story.

Janice Moore
Reply to  KevinK
January 15, 2015 9:23 pm
Reply to  KevinK
January 15, 2015 8:39 pm

Maybe she was one of these modern cows that doesn’t want to have kids.

Reply to  Zeke
January 15, 2015 8:51 pm

Har, Har, Har, good one, thanks for the good laugh

Just an engineer
Reply to  Zeke
January 16, 2015 8:42 am

Well you got my goat with that one!

Reply to  KevinK
January 16, 2015 7:25 pm

Actually I think I forgot to mention that cross species mating is also caused by CAGW…….
Ha ha ha….
Add it to the list…. we should be seeing more Moosefords (moose/hereford cross) by 2050, or
2100, or 2769 at the latest as predicted by the consensus IPCC models.
Cheers, KevinK.

Dr. Richard Rounds
January 15, 2015 8:33 pm

Hi Jim: I worked on moose for years in Manitoba. Your lit review covers most of the important factors covering their numbers and distribution. Moose are amoung the toughest critters in the bush. They are structurally built for deep snow and cold weather, but they, like all critters, are susceptible to nature. Populations change owing to intra-specific and inter-specific competition and predation (including hunting). The region I worked in had high density populations of elk, deer and moose. Weather affected each species differently, but they also overlapped habitat and were competitors for food and shelter. When early snow and cold ensued, all species would leave the dense bush and migrate unto surrounding farmland. Their movements and survival had nothing to do with climate change.
Rather, one heavy snow/cold winter could decimate a population. The impact, however, varied greatly dependent on the total population leading into a bad winter. If the forested ranges had been heavily browsed before a bad winter the populations could crash in one year. Two severe winters in a row could reduce population by 75%. There was no “cycle” to this. Rather, massive population changes occurred “periodically”. The wolf population varied with the ungulates, with a year or two lag.
The moose population has recently decreased greatly, but climate change has nothing to do with it. Ticks and hunting pressure (primarily First Nations and Metis) combined to decimate numbers. As mentioned above for Saskatchewan, our moose also have moved out onto the parkland in the south. I view this as a natural movement to get away from ticks, wolves and hunters. The moose, like you say for all critters, respond to local weather and other aspects of their habitat. Their range from the arctic edge to Minnesota obviates any attribution of population and distribution to climate change a farse.

January 15, 2015 8:42 pm

Thanks again, Jim. Yes, of course I bought your book. And you continue, as a TRUE environmental specialist to examine and comment on all the biased papers published on various environmental issues. I value the work you do.

Dr. Vince Crichton
January 15, 2015 8:55 pm

Moose in southern SK and SW Manitoba have been in the increase for a number of years – ,mention is made in one of the comments to changing agriculture practices. In the 60s according to a former minister with SK govt, there were 140,000 small farms, in 2010 there were 40,000 and in Feb 2014 35,000 and the prediction is they will go below 30,000 n near future. It has been suggested that with the small farms, the “odd” moose was taken by farmers – ‘ did a review of this for a moose conference in Russia in 2008) and when this sources was taken away they gradually increased. Also, SK has bee n a wet cycle for a number of years which has assisted the moose population. Now a recent paper by Mech and Fieberg casts doubt on the work of Lenarz who suggested it was climate change – they suggest that wolves are having a significant impact following a review of Lenarz’s data. A good article but there are other factors up here in Canada that are cause for concern. There is need for transparency to get to the root of the problem and then deal with it. And govts at he moment are not wiling to do that

John F. Hultquist
January 15, 2015 9:46 pm

Thanks Jim.
National Wildlife Federation (NW) bellowed “People never forget seeing their first moose.
Another instance of folks just making stuff up.
The last one I saw was wandering the streets of Cicely, Alaska (aka, Roslyn, WA – near me) [look up Northern Exposure].
Seriously, our local Department of Fish & Wildlife says:
Moose have been increasing in abundance and distribution within Washington for a few decades. Moose are now common and a hunted species in the northeastern portion of the state, but are increasingly observed in other areas of the state as well. We seek your assistance in helping us identify where moose have recently been documented.
Next is a form for the observer to fill in and submit if one sees a Moose.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 15, 2015 10:02 pm

Rather nice article here on WA & ID. Note the towns of Walla Walla and Ellensburg. (last close to me) Also, note that it is almost always warmer in such places than in northern Idaho.

January 15, 2015 11:08 pm

Good article Jim Steele!
I also appreciate the input of many other informed voices; e.g. Dr. Richard Rounds.
A few comments/questions if you don’t mind…?
I’d understood that across the Atlantic pond a moose is called a different critter? Alces alces in the latin or Eurasian Elk?
I love that picture of the bull elk leading the article. Nothing like a giant animal with a full rack staring you in the eye; especially when one realize that the brute has broken on a number of tines and at least one branch.
Make that a moose brute that is not afraid to enforce his point… Nice moose… I know where you can get your own flying squirrel, moose…

jim Steele
January 15, 2015 11:38 pm

Until about 2006 both the North American moose and Eurasian Elk were considered the same species Alces alces. (The American Elk is a very different species Cervus canadensis) The moose is now named Alces americanus but there is always some discussion about the “species designation” as the 2 species hybridize around Siberia. There has been a long historical tension between lumpers and splitters and how many differences deserve a species designation, and I remain in the frame of mind that still thinks of them as one species.

M Courtney
January 16, 2015 12:46 am

13 calves (37%) calves died due to mother abandonment. Eleven were caused when the mothers abandoned the calve during the act of attaching the collars,

It seems that Moose Researchers are significant predators of Moose Calves.
I pity the poor wolves having to compete with his fearsome new competitor.

Bengt Abelsson
January 16, 2015 2:43 am

In northern Sweden, some moose trapping pits were discovered, and dated 5-10000 years old. The locations coincide very well with todays moose migrating pattern, as followed by radio collars. The moose are thriving in most of Sweden, despite huge climate differencies north/south. 80000 – 100,000 moose are hunted each year.

Robert of Ottawa
January 16, 2015 3:05 am

Moose is tasty

January 16, 2015 4:01 am

I know a couple of biologists in Maine and due to a couple of hard winters and a serious tick problem, the moose have a pretty rough time. Primarily, a typical moose has 60-70k ticks on its body and loose a LOT of blood. In one area (Jackman, Maine region) most of the tagged moose perished as a result of tick infestation last winter. Here is an article from last year. The mortality re: tagged Moose occurred after this article was written and I learned of the mortality deer hunting in November 2014 while a friend (biologist) dropped by for a visit. Other factors include car moose collisions and predation by black bear. However, the tick problem was the main cause of mortality.

Reply to  john
January 16, 2015 4:14 am

Winter ticks are parasites that attack hoofed animals, especially moose. They are larger than most mites – growing to more than a half-inch long at their peak, when they feed on moose in late winter. Climate change is cited as one reason why there are now more winter ticks.
In Maine, winter ticks have been documented by biologists since the 1930s. Last fall, winter-tick counts on harvested moose were higher than in any year since the state started monitoring them in 2006.
In January, biologists began a five-year study involving 60 moose, affixed with radio collars, around Moosehead Lake. Half of those moose – 21 calves and nine adults – died this spring.
Tissue analysis won’t be back from the lab for several weeks, but Kantar said the moose, especially the calves, showed signs of anemia and mortality caused by winter ticks.
“When you find a calf lying dead and it has nothing else wrong with it, no broken bones, and there are signs of anemia, winter ticks are the most likely contributing factor to why that animal died,” Kantar said.

Reply to  john
January 16, 2015 8:30 am

A little DDT would help a lot of moose…
… or is that mooses? (old bad Rocky and Bullwinkle joke, but I like it.)

Reply to  john
January 16, 2015 3:09 pm

Atheok, the deer have no problems with that tick. There have been a few species illegally introduced to the region and now environmentalists are talking a lot about mountain lions. Assholes….
Wiilis, if you read this a friend caught this lake trout not too long ago. I have had a few lines broken in the same spot so they are out there. That is one amazing fish.
I prefer to fly fish the fast water rivers and streams for some really nice brookies and salmon ;). Tie my own flies too.
BTW, a gentian got a 12 point, 275 pould buck in the area I was hunting, Mine was 8 pt 238.

January 16, 2015 4:13 am

In Sweden the moose population exploded in the 70th due to that there was a loot of food due to the massive logging. In the end of the 70th the first wolf was inplanted and with the growing of the wolf population, the number of moose has gone done drastically in the wolf populated areas. This a real disadvangage for those who like to hunt and eat the best ecological, environmental friendly produced meat.

January 16, 2015 5:39 am

honestly moose are so stupid its a wonder they survived at all.
pretty common up here in maine, they really are the dumbest animal I have ever seen.
tasty though.
the last 2 years up here have been pretty cool and rainy in summer so ticks are a huge issue with them too. had more ticks on cats in last 2 years than 2000-2012 combined.

January 16, 2015 6:37 am

‘the last 2 years up here have been pretty cool and rainy in summer’
In our area the heat from high summer seems to dry the ticks up but if summer is late to arrive the tick season is prolonged and the vunerable smooth hided moose really suffers.

pablo an ex pat
January 16, 2015 6:50 am

There was an article on Moose decline a few years ago in the Minneapolis Star Tribune aka The Red Star.
It opened up with the usual guff about CAGW being to blame and then right towards the end of the article came a comment from a Moose expert from the University of Minnesota.
He said, and I am paraphrasing, that whatever was killing the moose it wasn’t higher temps evidenced by the heavy moose numbers in the unshaded sugar beet fields of the Red River Valley where some Moose were dropping Twins. Looked for the article to post the link but can’t find it.
And yes there are a lot of wolves out there, they’re becoming a not uncommon sight in N Minnesota.

January 16, 2015 6:54 am

I post occasionally on a hiking (peakbagging) forum in New Hampshire which offers invaluable beta on trail conditions related topics, which helped me to complete hiking the 48 4K footers in NH. Naturally, that forum caters to a wide variety of people with diverging opinions on things, including AGW and moose decline.
Someone made a post decrying the public’s incredulity regarding CO2’s causation of moose decline. I had to call BS. This lead to a long and sometimes heated debate, as you can well imagine. The moderators were very accommodating, reigning in the discussion if it drifted too far. I made numerous links to the articles, posts and papers available through WUWT. Inevitably, this lead to ad hominem attacks against Mr. Watts, accusations of shilling for Big Oil, etc., ad nauseum, and I did defend him vigorously, as a shill he most certainly is not. My intent was to try to break through the mind-numbing notion that “the science is settled” and promote some free thinking and investigation to the readers under that spell.
After all that, my layman’s opinion on moose decline is that the “boom-bust” nature of moose population in New England can be affected substantially by the winter tick, and its ability to find its host or not. This looks very weather dependent, with cold/wet/snowy conditions limiting their success at critical junctures when they find hosts in late fall, and drop from their host in spring. Mild weather at those time periods, along with a very dense moose population, can lead to incredible infestation rates and ensuing moose decline. My understanding is that moose are particularly susceptible to winter ticks, much more so than their cousins the Whte-tailed deer. I believe something like this occurred in northern Vermont/New Hampshire years ago, leading to the low moose population we have now. Now that the moose population is down, and we’ve had a harsh November, it will be interesting to see how the moose and winter tick are getting along. Many thanks to Jim Steele and Anthony Watts for the great read.

January 16, 2015 7:20 am

Migrating Moose? In recent years Moose have apparently been migrating from Wyoming into Colorado’s North Park and then further south into the upper Arkansas River valley and down into places as far south as Colorado Springs. These big animals can cover a lot of territory in a short time. They go where they like when they like. I know first hand that they are now being found in places where they haven’t been seen in decades. How anyone can get a reliable count on Moose populations is beyond me.

jim Steele
Reply to  Jbird
January 16, 2015 3:15 pm

Jbird, that is a very legitimate concern, and the inability to accurately tack wide ranging animals has led to undue alarm for polar bears (http://landscapesandcycles.net/blind-polar-bear-researchers.html) , caribou (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2011/11/21/canadian_elders_right_all_along_lost_caribou_herd_had_just_moved.html) , and emperor penguins (http://landscapesandcycles.net/resilient-emperor-penguin.html). We notice local changes, but due to migration we can easily miss any net change in the population, and misconstrue the causes of population changes.

pablo an ex pat
January 16, 2015 7:53 am

From the MN DNR, no change in Moose Numbers since 2012 though they still may indicate a long term trend of decline.
And I must correct my earlier post, the Moose Expert quoted in the Star Trib article was from the DNR not the U of M. His comment so jarred with the rest of the article that I was surprised that it was included in the story.

Dr. Vince Crichton
January 16, 2015 7:59 am

If you wish to become more informed about moose go on line and purchase the book entitled The Ecology and Management of the North American Moose (ISBN1-56098-775-8 which a number of us wrote chapters in – when it first came out the headlines in some media outlets were “Experts pen moose masterpiece” It is the Moose Bible

January 16, 2015 3:24 pm

Does the moose have any predators that were not active until 1620? Anything with particularly powerful moose-killing capability? And which does not exhibit a traditional predator cycle by failing to starve and die off as moose populations fall?

jim Steele
Reply to  Andrew
January 16, 2015 3:40 pm

Black bear commonly talk calves, and grizzly have been known to take down a moose but they do not ever rely on moose. Other than that I think the main “predators” are wolves and parasites and they exhibit a cyclic connection but both will hunt/parasitize other species.

Reply to  jim Steele
January 16, 2015 4:13 pm

Black bear and grizzlies commonly take down full grown moose in my area though they mostly take calves and cows in the spring. I have come upon a bull moose taken by a bear in late winter though one would have expected bears to be still in torpor. The skull and antlers are at the entrance to my driveway. Apparently the males do take walks in (late) winter. Wolves tend to take more moose in the deep snow and on ice in winter. They probably don’t attack strong, healthy moose very often due to the risk of injury.
And from our favourite source 😉 : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose
And yes, in some places the moose is the wolves primary diet.
Wolverines and cougars also take moose but deer are easier for all of the predators. My dogs often bring deer remnants home to chew on.

Reply to  Andrew
January 16, 2015 3:56 pm

Now that I have warmed up (double layer of long johns)… Moose tend to like swampy areas in the warmer months and love aquatic plants. I have also seen them frequent undisturbed mountain tops up to 3000 ft elevation in Maine during spring, summer and fall. During the winter they feed on mosses and hardwood twigs in low laying areas. They really have no trouble with deep snow and like the fresh growth of wood harvesting operations as well.
Deer on the other hand, have difficulty with deep snow and the population does well in and near active logging operations. A lot of deer will winter in these areas, but as logging has been decreased, they have moved to more rural locations and yes, can be a problem with ornamental bushes growing at ones home. That includes fruit trees at orchards. Coyotes/ Coy dogs are their main predator, and yes, they move into those areas as well.
Moose were hunted early on as a source of meat but they offer little fat content. Too much protein without the fat can result in protein starvation. As Benedict Arnold’s crew experienced going in to take Quebec. Protein Poisoning or Rabbit Starvation.
I grew up eating it and yes it is delicious, but salt pork or bacon was needed to enhance it.
Getting back to your question. The Tick Problem is the prime mover here (commented on earlier) and I hope that Bill McKibben et. al. get some of those 1/2 inch ticks on their balls.

Gary Pearse
January 16, 2015 5:32 pm

In the late 1950s, I mapped geology in northern Manitoba for the geological survey of Manitoba and saw plenty of Moose and black bear. One funny close encounter while I and my assistant were on a long compass traverse occurred at lunch time. I was pretty tired (had a bunch of rock samples in my ruck sack) and it was one of those hot muggy moosefly days. It was also a very dry year and we were despairing of finding water for tea. We came to a steamy bog with moose tracks all over it and the deep tracks were the only places we could scoop up a billy pail full of water and figured we better not hope for better farther on.
The tea water had a regatta of little swimming bugs on the top but, these eventually were cleared out of the way by a handful of tea into the boiling water. I got my assistant to light the fire and make the tea while I wandered over into spindly stand of swamp spruce for shade and lay down beside a log from an old forest fire. I fell asleep but was awakened by a snort and about a pound of saliva and snot from a cow moose who was peering at me from a few feet above me. I jumped up and she jumped up and turned and ran away. I realized I was lying on a well worn trail that the log lay across. I had to wash the muck off my face using another flooded cluster of moose tracks.
By the way, if anyone is running short of moose, Newfoundland, which has 150,000 moose decended from just 4 ancestors brought from New Brunswick in 2004! I’ve never seen anything like it. If you see one you usually see a dozen or more at a time. When a moose crosses the road ahead of you, you stop because there will be a surprising number to follow!

January 19, 2015 1:25 am

Never assume a carefully planned conspiracy, that which can be ascribed to incompetence and self-interest.

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