October 18, 2019

Maine Official Says Moose Population Holding Steady, BUT……..

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According to a report found on WCSH-TV website, Lee Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife moose biologist, says he believes the moose population is holding steady in Maine, even though 13 of the 60 cow and calf moose collared this year for a moose study have died.

Personally, I would have a difficult time being so optimistic as I believe that to be an unusually high mortality rate. However, Kantar seems to pass it off as the result of a severe winter and winter ticks.

However, I find one statement in this report disturbing.

Biologist Lee Kanter is heading up the program in Maine. His study is ongoing, but he suspects it will reveal a higher than average mortality rate among calves. Adult moose will continue to reproduce so Kanter believes we’ll see just a blip in the population.

The problem with this statement is it fails to state the not so obvious to most people; that even though adult moose will continue to reproduce, there will be fewer of them to do that. Recruitment is a term used to describe the number or percentage of new-born moose that survive their first winter. For a herd to “hold steady” it means that recruitment must at least equal the loss of adult reproducing moose.

If a recruitment rate is smaller than adult moose loss over a sustained period of time, the herd will continue to be decimated. It appears Kantar is betting on an easing of severe winters and his claim that ticks will fall off moose into deep snow and die, will lessen the effects of ticks next winter.

It would have been helpful if Mr. Kantar, or the person filing the report, had been more forthcoming on why Kantar suspects the mortality on calves to be “higher than average.”

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