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Moose Numbers Down in North Woods: Federal protection?

Jul 10, 2015 03:13 PM EDT
Two agencies have petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to grant Endangered Species Act protection to moose in the Midwest, which are down in numbers, especially in Minnesota.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

If you've ever seen a young moose calf, it is a rawbuck red, standing long-legged next to its very tall mother. In the Midwest's North Woods, a boreal forest elegized in books like Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, moose numbers are down. In fact, moose have decreased by 60 percent in the last 10 years in Minnesota, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources.

That's why two agencies--the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and Honor the Earth -- filed a legal petition today seeking federal Endangered Species Act protection for the subspecies of moose, Alces alces andersoni, found in the Midwest, as a release from CBD noted.

"If we don't protect them, moose could be lost forever from the North Woods," said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney who works in the Center's Minneapolis office, according to the release. "Growing up in Minnesota, I loved seeing moose during family vacations up North. It's a tragedy that today kids like my own only know this symbol of the North Woods as stuffed toys in tourist gift shops."

The two agencies' petition seeks federal protection for moose in northeastern and northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale, and a small, recently established moose population in Wisconsin.

Because moose are built for cold and have wide feet made for walking in deep snow, they can become overheated in warming weather and susceptible to increased ticks and other pathogens that thrive in warm temperatures.

Protection under the Endangered Species Act for the moose would bring attention to the cost of failing to address emissions of greenhouse gases, designate additional federal dollars for research on the plight of the moose and provide additional habitat protections for moose in our warming world.

The Fish and Wildlife Service must issue a finding on the petition within 90 days. If it finds the listing may be warranted, the agency will undergo a 12-month review process on the status of the Midwestern moose.

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