The impact of climate change on hunting will be severe and, in some cases, will completely eliminate many of the species that are top targets for hunters today.
To take just one example, the moose population in the northwest portion of Minnesota has devolved to the point of extinction. Not long ago, moose hunting was once as popular as deer season in northwest Minnesota -– until the 1990s when the plentiful moose population began to vanish.
A Minnesota DNR formal count of moose in the Northwest corner comprising four counties showed about 4,400 animals. Just a few years later, a new study found just 100. Today, the sight of a moose in these regions is practically unheard of.
While intensive studies of the extinction of the moose population remain highly complex, showing multifaceted causes, few scientists doubt that warming temperatures played a major role. Warmer than normal winters allowed ticks to survive year-round on moose, weakening them. Furthermore, more parasites that moose eat in their diet have thrived in a warmer client. This has produced brain worms and other parasitic killers of moose.
Suppose the largest species of animals that once thrived in a vast region can completely vanish in a period of fewer than 20 years. In that case, the same can happen to just about any species on the planet in any location. The “Minnesota Moose Mystery” serves as a microcosm example for what is now happening worldwide.
The situation is already dire. According to a recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences, more than 500 species of land animals are currently on the brink of extinction. The report predicts all will be gone in about 20 years. The scientists said that without global warming and the other ecological bad habits of human beings, a similar die-off would have taken centuries to occur.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List recently examined data on 29,000 land vertebrate species of threatened birds. It found 5151 species whose populations have already dwindled below 1,000 – and about half of that number is already at 250 or less.
That means it is highly likely that popular game birds may soon suffer the same fate, from geese and ducks to prairie chickens and wild turkeys.
For hunters, this represents an alarming “red light warning” that their beloved hobby may soon become a thing of the past unless action is taken to stop and reverse climate change.