Friday, 15 April 2016

More moose on the loose in a warmer Alaska

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

Rising temperatures and longer summers have helped the iconic Alaskan moose conquer vast new stretches of frozen tundra according to a new study.

Changes in climate have seen a rapid increase in the size of plants that the moose depend on in winter to survive.

The large, lumbering creatures have moved hundreds of kilometres northwards following the spreading shrubs.

Scientists believe the moose will continue to colonise new territories as warming continues.

The windswept, treeless tundra regions of Alaska saw a rapid decline in moose numbers around the start of the 20th century but there has been a rise in sightings in these northern and western areas since 2009.

This study argues that the changing fortunes of moose in the tundra were due to environmental reasons and not overhunting as some had previously suggested.

While caribou are able to dig down through the snow to find forage in winter, moose can only eat the shrubs and plants sticking through this layer.

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