New Research Explores the Effects of Climate Change on Deer & Moose Populations in the Midwest

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A new study examines the past and future effects of climate change on white-tailed deer and moose in 13 states of the midwestern U.S. and 3 states of Canada.

Bull moose eating Coyote Willow on Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Bull moose by Tom Koerner, USFWS (Public domain)

new study examines the past and future effects of climate change on white-tailed deer and moose in 13 states of the midwestern U.S. and 3 states of Canada. Climate change may alter populations and harvest dynamics of key species in this region. The objectives of this study were to synthesize existing knowledge related to historical and projected climate trends and provide an overview of observed and projected effects of climate change on white‐tailed deer and moose in the region.

Northeast and National CASC researchers summarized information from comprehensive studies and projections that suggest that trends towards warmer, shorter winters with less snow may increase the range and population size of white‐tailed deer in North America while moose populations are expected to decline as they experience heat stress and an increase in disease and winter tick infestation. Overall, climate‐induced changes in midwestern ungulate populations could have major implications for ecosystems and people in the region.

This research can be used by resource managers across the Midwest who are tasked with reducing anticipated negative changes from climate change. Managers can begin preparing for these changes, for example, by proactively creating management plans that include factors related to recreational harvest, habitat protection, restoration, and modification.