U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service initiates status review for moose in the Lake States

Recently, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced a 90-day finding on a petition requesting that the agency list the U.S. population of northwestern moose (Alces alces andersoni) as an endangered or threatened distinct population segment (DPS). Moose populations addressed in the petition are found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and northeastern North Dakota.

The petition, which was submitted to the Service by the Center for Biological Diversity, asserts that the northwestern moose is affected by multiple factors including modification of habitat, disease and predation, inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms, and other factors such as vehicular collisions and climate change.

With respect to habitat, the petition states that “forest disturbance needed to regenerate high quality forage has been altered through human development, and it is rapidly changing in the face of climate change. Tree communities in boreal and hardwood forests that moose call home are shifting northward, being replaced by oak forests that are less suitable for moose. Rising temperatures and decreasing snowfall are putting moose at increased risk of overheating, which causes malnutrition and lowers their immune systems, and pathogens are also becoming more prevalent in a warming climate.”

The petition also states that “[roads] created from logging operations open up the forests to hunters and predators” and that “excessive logging may reduce moose food and cover for longer periods of time than the population can withstand”.

Based on their review of the petition, the Service has determined that it presents “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.” Therefore, the agency has initiated a review of the status of this moose population.

The notice of petition finding appears in the June 3, 2016 issue of the Federal Register (Vol. 81, No. 107, pp. 35698–35701). The Service requests that relevant information about the status of the northwestern moose and factors identified in the petition as threats be submitted by no later than August 2, 2016.