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Moose population in Ontario declining steeply, report reveals

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A new report published by Ontario’s environmental commissioner has warned that the population of moose in Ontario is declining steeply due to a number of reasons including climate change, decrease in roadless areas, parasites, and hunting.

According to Dianne Saxe, Ontario’s environmental commissioner, the iconic Canadian symbol and an invaluable part of Canada’s landscape is under threat and during the decade, population of moose has been declining rapidly. Not only moose, there are several other species that are facing the same threat.

Speaking with Toronto Star, Saxe revealed that climate change is making things worse for moose and combine that with other human-induced factors such as hunting and encroachment of the animal’s natural habitat, things are taking a turn for the worse. Saxe added that moose are exquisitely adapted to cold weather and very poorly adapted for heat and that’s one of the reasons why the population of the animal has been declining.

According to Saxe’s report titled Small Steps Forward, moose population was at an all time provincial low of 80,000 in the 1980s; however, with increased restrictions on hunting the population has managed to recover a little to 115,000 in early 2000. But this recovery was short lived as Saxe points out that the population is declining again and population of moose is at an estimated 92,300.

Some cities are seeing a steeper drop in the moose population than others, with Thunder Bay seeing a 50 per cent decline and Cochrane seeing a 60 per cent decrease.

The report titled Small Steps Forward highlights a mass loss of biodiversity, which Saxe calls a “crisis in our provinces and around the world.” In addition to moose, there are eight other amphibian species in Ontario that are at a similar risk. Bats, too, face a large threat. Four out of eight species of bat are classified as endangered.

The report points out findings of expeditions wherein surveyors have found every known colony of little brown bats been affected by white-nose syndrome, which is a disease that impacting hibernating bats, which spread from the U.S. and killed millions affected animals in its path. Things are so bad that there are all the chances of brown bats never recovering and their entire population being wiped out in a few years from Ontario.

Saxe is urging the Ontario government to enforce stricter laws around hunting and habitat preservation for wildlife.