In certain parts of B.C. there have been local population declines in moose. In other parts of the province, populations appear stable. We do not yet know why some moose populations are declining.
Some moose populations have declined in eastern and central North American. The overall cause of these declines has not been clearly identified. Some declines appear to have been caused by parasites and disease, such as winter tick and meningeal (brain) worm. Changes in climate have led to conditions in which parasites thrive. Parasites will likely become more common and widespread, having more impact on their hosts.
Even in the absence of significant pathogens, the cumulative effects of climate change and anthropogenic and environmental stressors could make moose more vulnerable to diseases and parasites.
B.C. Moose Program Five-Year Study
We do not have much data in B.C. that would help us understand moose health. The Wildlife Health Program has collaborated with the Provincial Moose Team in a five-year research project looking at moose health. They are analysing both archived and newly collected samples. The data will help to create a general assessment of moose health status in B.C., and provide a baseline that can be used to monitor changes in moose health in the future. The assessment will help managers determine if pathogens are playing a role in the observed population declines.