King of the Forest’ actually threatening it

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Norway’s moose is fondly referred to as the “King of the Forest” (Skogens konge), but new research suggests the huge, majestic creatures may be damaging the very areas that feed them.

A close encounter in Rankedalen, near Katnosa, far north in the hills above Oslo. PHOTO: Morten Møst

Experts claim there are now far too many moose in Norwegian forests, and they’re destroying the biological diversity of local flora and fauna.

“There’s become so many moose that in many places, they’ve eaten up too much of the vegetation,” Olav Hjeljord of the state university in Ås told newspaper Aftenposten. He noted that several varieties of trees that once were abundant can scarcely be found or are stunted, such as rognebær bushes.

When the vegetation disappears, so do insects that live around them and therefore also the birds lose a source of food, Hjeljord noted.

He’s urging conservation officials to increase hunting quotas, to pare down the moose population. It’s estimated that the moose population in Norway amounted to around 120,000 this year, up from less than 10,000 in the 1930s.

By Views and News staff