Iconic Minnesota wildlife could disappear from the state as climate changes

Lynx
Lynx

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Some animals will thrive and others will disappear from Minnesota as climate change transforms habitats in the state.

It's been a cold winter so far this year, but Minnesota Department of Natural Resources assistant wildlife manager Rob Baden says the region is getting warmer overall.

Weather reflects day-to-day conditions, but climate is the big picture over time, Baden explained, pointing out that despite recent cold temperatures, Minnesota's climate has actually been changing quite a bit. That change has been affecting habitats and ultimately the animals that live in them.

Some are thriving in the change. For turkeys, pheasants and especially white tailed deer, warm winters make it much easier to find food.

"In spring, those does are going to have enough body fat to really develop that offspring in them, and they're going to have twins a lot of times versus maybe absorbing one of those embryos," Baden said.

Those species are thriving with climate change, but many iconic Minnesota animals will take a hit. As the climate changes, the moose population will steadily decline and one day the animal might disappear from Minnesota entirely.

"When we look at the 1980s the 1990s, we had four, five, six thousand moose in Northwestern Minnesota," Baden said. "Now we're down to probably a few hundred at most."

The moose isn't the only animal that might disappear from Minnesota. Lynx and possibly the Common loon, Minnesota's state bird, might also move north as the climate warms.

More information on climate change can be found on the Minnesota DNR website.