A new report from the National Wildlife Federation says the dwindling moose population in Minnesota is likely due to the effects of climate change.
"Moose are the poster child of climate change and Minnesota is demonstrating that," the study's author, Doug Inkley told the Associated Press.
Moose in northwest Minnesota have all but disappeared. In the northeast part of the state, the moose population has been cut in half in the last three years, leaving just 2,760 moose in the state, according to a survey conducted in January.
Warmer weather can cause moose to become heat-stressed, which lead to lower weights, declining pregnancy rates and increased vulnerability to predators and disease, according to the nonprofit's report.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said many factors associated with climate change -- parasites that survive mild winters, lack of food supply and dried up bogs where moose used to cool off -- may be among the reasons why Minnesota's moose are disappearing, although the exact cause is unknown, the Associated Press said.
A $1.2 million study was launched last winter to determine just that. Without intervention, DNR researchers say the population could disappear entirely by 2020.
Moose aren't the only big game species at risk in Minnesota, according to the report. The National Wildlife Federation says climate change also threatens deer, black bear and elk populations.
The organization calls for cutting CO2 emissions through cleaner energy, a smarter approach to managing big game and more investment in wildlife research.