Population threatened in Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Ibex, the European mountain goats that roam the high peaks of the Alps, are dying out in part of Italy, and researchers think global warming may be a factor. Since 1963, the number of ibex in Gran Paradiso National Park has fallen by half, and while the same number of young are being born every year, about three-quarters of them are dying.
Researchers have been studying the population decline and suspect that changes in vegetation are stressing the young animals. Just like in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, spring is coming earlier and the plants are growing more quickly and drying out sooner — out of synch with the life cycle of the ibex.
Once the kids are weaned, they aren’t finding lush green grash, but only dried and fibrous plants that are much lower in nutrition. Declining winter snows may also be a factor. Researchers say those conditions favor survival of the older animals.
A pathogen may also be a factor, though researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint any specific disease yet.
Whatever the reason, the ibex population in the Italian national park is now seriously at risk.
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, global warming, Summit County Colorado, wildlife Tagged: | Alps, conservation, Environment, global warming, Gran Paradiso National Park, ibex, Summit County News, wildlife