Ticks Killing Moose Calves Say Moose Biologists

Posted on May 18, 2016

A new study links ticks to the deaths of moose calves. Researchers tagged moose calves in New Hampshire and Maine. They later found that many of these calves had died and tick infestations were to blame.

The Portland Press Herald reports that 75% of the moose calves tagged in New Hampshire died and 60% off the calves tagged in Maine died.

Moose biologist Kristine Rines tells the AP, "It doesn't bode well for moose in the long term if we continue to have these short winters." Rines does say the tick numbers will decline as the moose numbers decline but adds, "What we don't know is at what point will things level off."

There was also a report from the National Wildlife Federation a few years ago that found some adult moose are even dropping dead in their prime. Some individual moose were found to be infested with as many as 70,000 ticks.

A report, Wildlife in a Warming World, says, "Biologists attribute most of this decline to increasing temperatures: when it gets too warm moose typically seek shelter rather than foraging for nutritious foods needed to keep them healthy. They become more vulnerable to tick infestations, which have proliferated as the region has warmed. Ticks leave moose weakened from blood loss and with hairless patches where they tried to rub off the ticks. Without protective hair, these animals can die from cold exposure in the winter. Individual moose infested with 50,000 to 70,000 ticks-ten to twenty times more than normal—have been documented."

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