March 20, 2019

While Biologists Dither, Hunting Opportunities Are Squandered

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Maybe there is some hope…or maybe not. An article in the Boston Globe provides a few statements from so-called wildlife biologists that offer a glimmer of hope, even if ever so slightly.

Recently in an article I had written about how scientists are attempting to seek an answer to the affect of winter ticks on moose by only studying the moose and making huge assumptions about the tick – assumptions that have been passed on through half-ass “science” and incessantly repeated by the Media echo-chambers – I referenced a Boston Globe article echoing “Climate Change” as the reason there are too many ticks killing moose.

However, the latest bit of propaganda from the Boston Globe, might cause some of us to pause in hope that perhaps…just perhaps, there are some things that might be changing. (Note: Readers may or may not understand the extreme difficulty I find is uttering such statements.)

Let’s take a look at some of the comments found in this article.

The author of the piece begins by saying, “Researchers say that over the last few years, ticks have killed about 70 percent of the calves they have tagged in certain regions, an indication that the tick is taking a significant toll.”

Perhaps this statement needs further clarification and some more answers to important questions. The author says that “researchers” claim 70% of moose calves tagged “in certain regions” have been killed and that this indicates a “significant toll” on the moose. Does it?

Maybe it’s a significant toll in that one region but is this indicative throughout the greater region or the state being referenced? Most of these studies are centered around gaining a better understanding of how the tick effects the survival of the moose. In order to better understand this, it only seems plausible that scientists will pick areas they believe have high infestations of ticks and moose.

What isn’t being said here is that, if assuming the reference to “tagged” means collared and tracked, then 30% of collared moose calves are surviving. What also isn’t said is that we don’t know from the information given, whether the moose calves collared and data collected for this study, is representative of the entire state or perhaps just in areas believed to be the most heavily infested with winter ticks?

Under “normal” conditions, what is the “recruitment” or survival rates of moose calves? And what is the benchmark moose calve survival rate believed to be necessary to “sustain” a moose population? Sensational media reports might play to the emotionalism of ignorant readers but does little in revealing scientific honesty – or perhaps that’s an oxymoron.

“The study expanded last year to northern Maine — which Kantar said had a lower mortality rate of 48 percent — and to Vermont this month. There are about 250 moose collared for the study.” Lee Kantar is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) head moose biologist. The differences in calf survival rates between 30% and 52% are significant. And yet again, we must ask whether these numbers can, in any way, be attributable to moose and tick interaction statewide?

“Kantar said the study was about moose survival — not climate …..

Every single day when temperatures are above the norm in the fall is another day that the ticks are out there and able to get on a moose.”

At first glance we are told that the moose study is about moose survival and not climate. This is immediately followed by a statement supporting global warming as a culprit of moose tick infestations. So, which is it?

And, let’s examine this statement that temperatures in the Fall making it easier for ticks to find a moose. Where did such a claim come from? And is this statement about fact or is it about what we are not being told? From all the studies and even the echo chambers repeating non-scientific mumbo-jumbo, is there data showing that warmer Falls leads to more ticks on moose? Or is it more repeated emotional, climate-change clap-trap?

In the late Summer and early Fall (September and October) when ticks are making their climb up vegetation to hitch a ride on a passing moose (or other ungulate – cattle, deer, pigs, elk, horses, etc.) temperatures at, or below, freezing will “slow down” activity. It is readily stated that in order for “weather” to significantly kill off ticks, an area needs temperatures to be below 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit for six consecutive days. Not only is this an unrealistic expectation in September and October, it is unrealistic in Maine throughout the winter.

Kantar’s statement that extended warm Fall days “is another day” that ticks can get on a moose, isn’t false. It’s just not very accurate and is misleading. In one breath we read how the studies being conducted aren’t about climate and yet climate appears to be the excuse.

If you want to believe what is written about ticks, the consensus is that “WEATHER” not climate is the biggest limiting or perpetuating factor for moose ticks. Some of the original tick studies that I have read clearly show that the moose tick, at every stage of its life cycle is extremely viable and is virtually unaffected by temperatures. Humidity can limit the productivity of the ticks, but wind is the biggest deterrent to keep ticks off the vegetation they climb where they can attach to a moose when it passes by. Other than any of this, it only makes sense that if you limit the free rides on ungulates, necessary to complete the life cycle, you will limit the presence of ticks.

“More moose, researchers say, mean more hosts for ticks.” Bingo! Give the man a cigar. Finally, I have found somewhere within the hollow, echo-chambers of the mass media that the increase in ticks might actually be directly proportionate to the moose population. In addition to this statement, we also read: “The biologists say that one possible way to control the problem, though counterintuitive, is increased hunting.”

Which brings me to the point of this post – dithering at the expense of hunting opportunities!

We further read: ““It’s just going to be a long and brutal situation for them, until the habitat either changes or humans decide we just need to take more of these animals.” (emboldening added)

Isn’t this part of the problem? Isn’t the extremely high moose population in Maine the result of both ignorance and the caving to the demands of the public for more moose for gawking? What in hell should a scientist expect when decisions are being made based on social demands rather than responsible wildlife management and science?

And lastly, we read, “We hope that the tick numbers are thus going to be reduced and at some point you get a new equilibrium of moose density.”

We hope?

Yes, at some point Maine will reach a “new equilibrium” of moose density. Unfortunately, I have serious doubts that the “equilibrium” will be at all stable if scientists continue to dither and cave to social demands. I really don’t think it requires tens of thousands of dollars to be spent on moose studies (and no money spent on tick studies) to figure out that too much of anything, in wildlife, isn’t very good. No, we don’t have the necessary data to make just about all the conclusions that are being drawn. We don’t know if the number of ticks in Maine now is normal, above or below normal. Maine should have figured out a long time ago that the state had too many moose and done something about it. Instead, they wanted to keep the moose gawkers happy and give them all the moose they demanded that could be seen from their living room picture windows.

Mother Nature is only doing what wildlife managers should have been doing. The old girl is killing off moose in droves in order to mitigate the tick infestation. What is extremely unfortunate in this dithering is, that, while the North American Model of Wildlife Management utilizes hunting as a means of managing and perpetuating wildlife, our new, post-normal, environmentally brainwashed “scientists,” too worried about social whining, would rather the hunting opportunities by thrown in the garbage in exchange for letting the ticks kill and waste the meat.

Maybe the idea is to grow tens of thousands of moose, thinking they can, and really making the moose hunting a bigger and better cash cow. There is a reason that moose don’t grow on trees and fill every corner of the forest. I guess we’ll have to spend a few hundred thousand more dollars and time, letting moose be managed by Mother Nature, in her cruel and wasteful way, stealing away hunting opportunities – which incidentally are funded by the hunters – perpetuating a situation in which the only winners are the companies that make the collars and fly the helicopters.

Does any of this make sense?