Climate change is bad news for the moose, according to specialists who met in Michigan this month for a "moose summit." Moose populations have dropped by half in Michigan in the last 20 years, during which time average winter temperatures have risen 12 degrees.

"When moose are in trouble, they don't move. They die," according to Rolf Peterson, chairman of the Minnesota Moose Advisory Committee. Higher temperatures affect moose immune systems, makes it harder for them to find food, and interferes with their ability to put on the fat they need to survive their beloved cold temperatures.

Moose (or elk as they're known in Europe) aren't endangered -- yet -- but one population expert who spoke at the moose summit said that if population declines continue, "there won't be any moose in 50 years."

The moose known in Michigan (and here in Maine) is Alces alces Americanus, one of four sub-species endemic to the United States.

Story by John Platt. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in December 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008