March 23, 2017

Easier To Blame Global Warming for Moose Tick Infestation Than Seeking Truth

One of the difficulties lazy readers have in finding facts comes from media-spawned political rhetoric and mythological hype from agenda-driven entities’ regurgitated propaganda sent to the media outlets, who, without questioning, publish it. Such is the case in an article found at Public News Service.

The article simply takes mostly tripe and propaganda put out by the Natural Resources Council (NRC) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and publishes it as though it were substantiated fact. It is unfortunate that, one, the NRC and NWF are still mired in agendas to promote man-made global warming, and they refuse to accept the truth about what it is that is effecting our climate. Second, that because of this cultist obsession with global warming, they seize on information about tick-infested moose and lie to readers that moose have ticks because of global warming.

At least two serious errors have occurred here. The first being that the news agency appears not to have questioned any of the propaganda put out by the NRC and NWF and second, the information given by the NRC and NWF is misleading, incomplete and agenda-drive dishonesty.

Not quite 2 months ago, I provided readers with tons of information about science-substantiated winter ticks and moose. I challenge all to read it. I’ll spare you the blow by blow errors and misleading information provided in the Public News Service piece and try to help readers understand about ticks and why we are seeing more and more dead moose in the woods of Maine.

While it may not be wrong to state that warm weather causes more ticks, in the context of the article cited, it is intentionally misleading. The study I am referencing says that what happens during the early fall when ticks make their way onto vegetation in preparation of hitching a ride on a moose, is the most determining factor on how many ticks survive and how much the moose is effected by the ticks. The study says that it is in September and October when ticks find their way to the vegetation where they ultimately wait for their hosts to appear. This happens to coincide with the annual moose rut. Let’s not also forget that these ticks use all ungulates, i.e. moose, elk, deer, etc.

However, if any one of three elements or a combination of all occurs, ticks finding their way onto moose will be lessened, sometimes substantially. The first are deep snows. In Maine, how often are their deep snows? While there are no given definitions to “deep snows” in the study, one could conclude that being the data indicates these ticks can be found from a couple inches to several feet above the ground, I presume a foot of snow or more might have an effect on the ticks. Again, how often does this happen?

A second event that effects ticks is “6 consecutive days in which the temperature does not exceed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.” When was the last time this happened in Maine during September, October and November?

And the third thing is windy weather. Strong and gusty winds will knock ticks off vegetation and more times than not are unable to reestablish themselves for that free ride. Consequently, the ticks die. How often does the wind blow in Maine? But, let me be honest. There could be little cold, no snow and no winds to interfere with the tick crop and we could have a banner year. Does that mean it’s all attributed to global warming? There could be little cold, no snow and windier than normal conditions leading to a minimal crop. Is this all attributed to global cooling?

From the point of finding their way onto moose, the ticks basically ride around staying warm enough to survive through winter. In late winter, around in March, the female ticks begin engorging themselves with blood from the moose. This irritates the moose causing them to rub, sometimes incessantly, in attempts to get rid of the ticks. The loss of energy, reduced periods of rest and loss of hair due to rubbing, all can contribute to a moose’s ability to tough out the rest of the winter. However, studies indicate the while ticks infestation contributes to ungulate death, it is not the main cause. Eventually the ticks are rubbed off and die and sometimes they survive. By spring, the ticks drop off the moose and the cycle begins again.

To create a blank statement that global warming causes more ticks to kill moose, simply is an incomplete and dishonest statement. An argument can be made that prolonged warming could attribute to an increase in ticks under certain conditions. However, I’m not sure that further studies exist to inform us as to how increased warming effects the entire ecosystem that includes the tick. Is it honest or intelligent to assume that warming is all good? Perhaps prolonged warming has detrimental effects on ticks that we have yet to discover.

Instead of dishonestly taking advantage of news reports of more dead moose being found in the woods and attributing it to global warming-caused tick infestations, why not take two minutes and examine stark and simple realities that can probably explain away much of what all the fuss is about.

It was but a mere 10 years ago that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was stating that the state’s moose population was around 29,000. Today, those estimates have risen dramatically and now may actually be approaching 100,000. With 3 – 4 times the number of moose ramming around the forests and fields, doesn’t it make sense that there are 3 – 4 times the number of moose roaming about the countryside in September and October picking up ticks. And doesn’t it stand to reason that with 3 – 4 times more moose carrying ticks, that more ticks survive to repeat the cycle? And finally, if there are 3 – 4 times the number of moose than there used to be ten years ago, wouldn’t the chances be pretty good we might be seeing 3 – 4 times the number of dead moose?

Tom Remington