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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moose are thriving on the Prairie's of North Dakota while plummeting in the more Northern and forested regions of the State............We have discussed before how Moose in the Great Lakes States have declined severely with Scientist speculation that a combination of Brainworm disease, warming temps and land alteration might be creating a perfect storm of moose destruction.................Seems that North Dakota prairie moose have a much smaller incidence of the brainworm (deer are the carriers of this parasite which is benign to deer but deadly to moose) and also have a very small incidence of Liver Fluke(another deadly moose parasite) impacting their population...........What always causes me to scratch my head is how New England and New York Moose are expanding their population in the face of a huge deer population and equally warming temperatures...............Mystery indeed!

Moose thriving on North Dakota prairie

Moose populations are declining in Minnesota, where biologists and wildlife managers continue to search for solutions to reversing the trend, but the majestic animals are doing well on the prairies of North Dakota.

By: Brad Dokken 

    BISMARCK – Moose populations are declining in Minnesota, where biologists and wildlife managers continue to search for solutions to reversing the trend, but the majestic animals are doing well on the prairies of North Dakota.

    The big question, perhaps, is why an animal associated with the boreal forest is at home on the prairie. In a word, it might come down to disease. Or lack of it.

    According to Bill Jensen, big-game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, the increase in prairie moose in the mid- to late 1980s preceded declines in the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills, forested areas in the northern part of the state that offer more traditional woody habitat.

    Jensen said populations in the Pembina Hills peaked in the early 1990s at about 1½ moose every two miles but declined to the point where Game and Fish hasn't offered a hunting season since 2005.
    "It dramatically declined, and that mimics what was seen just across the border in Minnesota and Canada," Jensen said.

    In the past two decades, northwest Minnesota's moose population has tumbled from at least 4,000 to fewer than 100 animals, the Department of Natural Resources said.

    The success of moose on the prairies might come down to the relative absence of a nasty little critter called the brainworm, a parasite carried by land snails to deer and moose.Brainworms have no effect on deer, which shed the eggs through their waste, but they're fatal to moose, Jensen said.

    In the early 2000s, Jensen said, Game and Fish sampled brains from more than 3,700 white-tailed deer shot by hunters to test for chronic wasting disease. They also checked for brainworms, and in deer hunting units 2C and 2D of northeastern North Dakota, more than 30 percent of the deer sampled had the parasite, Jensen said, while deer sampled farther west had lower prevalence rates.

    The correlation would suggest more moose in the northeast also had brainworm, with fatal consequences."I think it really drives the system in some cases," Jensen said. "There have been all sorts of theories about why moose aren't doing well, and I think a more careful look needs to be directed at disease."

    Also working in the favor of North Dakota moose is the absence of the liver fluke, another parasite. In the mid-2000s, University of North Dakota graduate student Jim Maskey oversaw an extensive research project into prairie moose as part of his doctoral thesis. The risk from brainworm and liver flukes was part of the research, Jensen said."Liver flukes can be very damaging to a moose, but when he looked at moose livers, he wasn't finding them in North Dakota," Jensen said.

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