September 1, 2014

Vermont’s Moose Permits Drop From 1,225 to 285

And officials don’t understand why the number of people applying for a permit has also decreased? Give me a break!

From the Burlington Free Press:

“The decline in permit applications has not been entirely unexpected and has followed a sharp decrease in permit numbers, from 1,225 in 2009 to 285 this year. Yet late last month, state Fish and Wildlife Department officials were alarmed to discover they had received only about as third as many applications as anticipated.”

Is the Answer to All Game Issues to Punish the Sportsman?

MooseTicksPity the person who read Deirdre Fleming’s article in the Portland Press Herald on Saturday. Saturday was the annual moose lottery drawing event, this year held in Presque Isle, Maine and I believe the article was a lead-in to this event. However, the article appears to be an attempt at placing the moose in all of the United States in peril due to winter ticks, weather, presence of man, climate change, starvation, climate change, more starvation, climate change; oh and did I mention global warming?

And not one single word about predators having an effect on moose populations. Not one! More proof the predator must be protected at all costs because a protected predator population will result in the demise of hunting.

For anyone reading the article, more than likely they went away confused due to all the contradictions presented from information provided by some state and provincial wildlife representatives and some guides or other non professional wildlife personnel. More importantly the reader probably left with crap in their head about anything of importance as to why it appears the moose is probably going through a cyclical population swing. Isn’t this more proof wildlife managers don’t really know that much about what effects moose populations and all attempts to regulate numbers falls back onto the sportsmen who fund the programs to manage game species like the moose…..even if the management methods are wrong?

It is like a broken record, reading article after article, after article about how global warming is the root cause of all lousy wildlife management, or lack thereof, plans and implementation. When an arrogant and ignorant, politically minded, puppet president, Barack Obama, delivers a commencement address and chooses to destroy the event of many of the graduates, speaking about climate change and how it is “proven” science, lie, lie, lie, lie, how can we ever hope that anyone will actually get it, even to the point of having enough intestinal fortitude to at least ask a question or two?

And what has happened to any sense of logical thinking? All the talk is about those damned winter ticks and how they are killing off all the moose. And what’s doubly frustrating is that very few, if any, people have a clue about winter ticks. What happens with winter ticks and the media is the same as what happens to every news event of any kind worldwide; one person repeats something they heard and it just gets passed on with never a media person or even wildlife manager taking the time to vet the information to discover truth. Truth be damned! Knowledge be damned!

Maybe Maine’s Lee Kantar, head moose biologist, is on the right track and will figure this all out before the moose are actually all gone in Maine and written off as the result of the BIG LIE – global warming.

Several years ago I asked Mr. Kantar about whether or not winter ticks on moose were killing the animals. His response was one that I found no reason to quibble over because at that time I also knew very little about the winter tick. He told me that ticks will not, by themselves, kill a moose, but the effects of the ticks throughout the winter, would leave a moose in a weakened stage and more susceptible to the throes of harsh Maine winters and predation. It wasn’t too long and that position morphed into one of more ticks on moose are causing increased deaths of moose. In addition, Kantar said that Maine was not as susceptible to the winter tick in Northern Maine because of a colder climate than Vermont or New Hampshire. Now he’s saying he’s not sure of that either. At least it appears he is willing to change his position as he gains knowledge.

Maine has decided to reduce the number of moose permits for the upcoming hunting season. The reason given is that wildlife biologists believe that the moose population in Maine has taken a hard hit. Logic would tells us, if it is true that the population of moose has shrunk, that the number of permits issued should be reduced. It’s always the hunter that bears the brunt when it comes to population controls for game animals…..with few complaints I might add. But in this case is this the right thing to do?

The first problem that Maine is facing, as are other states doing the same thing, is that too much emphasis is being placed on managing wildlife, including game species, according to social demands. Nothing could be worse for animal populations than to control them due to the desires of the public to “view” wildlife, mostly from the comfort of climate-controlled vehicles. This is quite absurd, and yet there is never any talk of how this might be affecting our animal health and populations.

The second problem is Maine and some other states may be looking at this issue with moose and ticks the wrong way. We are being told that Maine has monitored, or perhaps better described as, have been aware, of winter ticks on moose as early as the 1930s. I’m sure the ticks have been around since forever. It appears Maine, according to other reports, has been monitoring ticks on moose since 2006. This past year appears to have been a record tick year.

According to the Portland Press Herald article linked to above, Mark Latti says that Maine’s moose population spiked up to 76,000 animals in 2012. In the grand scheme of things, it was not that many years ago when moose were protected and feared on the brink of extirpation in Maine. So what changed? Well, the protection helped but due to an outbreak of spruce budworm, enormous amounts of clear-cutting of forests took place, resulting in prime moose habitat.

Isn’t it a logical conclusion, or at least shouldn’t it prompt a question, that along with the increase in moose numbers, we watched the tick population grow as well? There must be a correlation and yet mum seems to be the word. With the exception of a rogue comment here and there that there needs to be fewer moose in order to reduce tick infestation, nobody is talking about or asking about this seemingly logical conclusion.

Instead, all the focus wants to be on fake global warming nonsense. Nonsense because every single dire prediction that has been made since this “inconvenient truth” was dumped on the citizenry by greedy, politically-minded dupes, has NOT come to fruition. And yet we beat Al Gore’s drum for him. We blame everything on global warming and the result becomes that we don’t find the scientific truth in anything, including the correlation between moose and tick.

But there seems to be some hope coming out of Vermont. In Fleming’s article, Vermont’s Director of Wildlife for the Fish and Wildlife Department said his state increased the number of moose permits in order to reduce the effects of winter ticks.

A decade ago, Vermont biologists increased moose hunting permits to reduce the population because they believe that a smaller moose herd – now estimated at 2,300 statewide – is less susceptible to the parasite.

The habit has always been when numbers are down, reduce hunting opportunity to bring the numbers back up. As I have pointed out, one of the problems with this plan is that too much emphasis is being put on social demands rather than scientific reality. All wildlife should be managed at healthy levels. It appears common sense to me that 76,000 or more moose in the State of Maine are too many and thus, the result is a very unhealthy moose herd, suffering from the effects of winter tick infestation. Moose are suffering, inhumanely perhaps, and unnecessarily. Shouldn’t we then be considering increasing the number of moose permits in order to reduce populations which will reduce the presence of ticks? In addition, let’s get away from the notion of building wildlife numbers to artificially high numbers in order to provide lazy people with a chance to spot a wild animal.

2014 Maine Moose Permit Lottery Results

Please follow this link to find the results of the June 14, 2014 Maine Moose Lottery drawing held in Presque Isle.

2014 Maine Moose Permit Lottery

An Example of Balance of Nature

“The population prior to 2000 increased significantly from low numbers in the late 1970-80s due to good forest cutting practices. Wolf numbers were kept in check due to an outbreak of mange, and black bear predation on calves was kept in check until the spring hunt was cancelled in 1999.

Then came the perfect storm of moose disasters.

From 1999 to 2004, 12,000 more bears moved into moose neighbourhoods due to the spring hunt cancellation, white-tailed deer numbers skyrocketed due to mild winters over the past 10 years, and the number of wolves climbed. It’s worth noting that at the same time, the MNR implemented licence fees for wolf hunting and subsequently lowered harvests as well.”<<<Read More>>>

OntarioWMUMap

Is Socialized Wildlife Management Killing Maine’s Moose?

MooseTickMap*Editor’s Note*: Below I have republished an article I wrote in February of 2012 called, “Are Winter Ticks Killing Maine’s Moose Population?” I have edited this report to update bad links and to remove some information that is not exactly that relevant to current events.

The point of republishing the article is in response to the recent announcement that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is going to reduce available moose permits this late summer and fall by nearly 30% due to a significant die-off of moose during the most recent winter event. The responses to this announcement are mostly based on bad information, especially coming from those who believe the increased number of ticks killing moose is attributed to “global warming”; conveniently that term has been changed to “climate change” in order to fool more people. Persisting in the mantra of climate change is dishonest at best and shows ignorance to an understanding of the life cycle of the winter moose tick and what environmental and biological conditions effect the tick.

Burying our heads in the sand and blindly following climate change as the excuse du jour is partly a product of socialized wildlife management. Socialized wildlife management began when our wildlife managers abandoned sound and scientific animal biology and replaced it with social tolerances and desires of the public in what they wanted for wildlife in their neighborhoods. This, of course, is utter nonsense and is often referred to as “Romance Biology” – that is a form of fantasy or idealistic coexistence with animals based on some mythological notion that nature will balance itself if man would just shrivel up and go away.

In addressing Maine’s moose herd, we know that over the past several years, people have clamored and whined to the state that they wanted more and more moose to “watch”; some even claiming huge money to be made with moose watching tours. But is this social demand for more moose biologically sound?

It is my theory, and I’m not alone in these thoughts, that following the attack of the spruce budworm that resulted in the clear-cutting of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of acres of infested forests, the resulting landscape, as the forests regenerated, made for prime moose habitat, as well as habit for the snowshoe hare which helps explain the resurgence of Canada lynx.

Maine’s moose population grew rapidly and without definite tools at the disposal of moose managers, it was only educated guesstimates used to determine what might have been a reasonable number of moose. We should have known things were growing too fast when the state had to offer moose hunting permits in some southern Wildlife Management Districts. With recent aerial counts we now have a better idea.

In the link that will appear below of work done by William Samuel about moose ticks, Samuel provides a map that shows where moose ticks appear. The map also shows the range of the moose and as most of us know the moose in Maine are at the southern end of the range. For that reason alone shouldn’t we be concerned that a moose population that has grown to an official count of 75,000, with some estimations up near 90,000, that this is not normal?

If MDIFW is going to continue to guide their wildlife management by social demands, the future and health of wildlife populations can probably expect more of disease, parasite, worms and other infestations.

As is pointed out in the republished article below, maybe instead of reducing the moose harvest to keep number artificially high, we should considering an overall reduction in population. William Samuel does say that more moose mean more ticks. After all, ticks thrive when there are a lot of hosts to suck blood from.

Are Winter Ticks Killing Maine’s Moose Population?

There seems to be a bit more information about winter ticks that I haven’t found in any Maine publications that deals more in depth with what happens in the fall when the winter tick larvae are gathering on vegetation waiting for a free ride with a host. In addition to that, while these winter ticks effect all wild ungulates, why pick on the moose so much. And, it is said that the winter ticks don’t actually kill the moose, but rarely, are we looking at an honest assessment of all factors that kill a moose weakened by tens of thousands of blood sucking ticks?

Lee Kantar says that the winter tick is a “huge contributor” to the death of some moose, he also points out that, “it’s not the sole cause”. Even on the MDIFW website [Note: the original link is no longer valid after MDIFW redesigned their website. In it's place MDIFW links to an off-site location for information about winter ticks.], information provided about moose states that, “winter tick and lung worm infestations rarely kill moose”.

This information is supported in existing studies about moose and winter ticks. William M. Samuel and Dwight A. Welch, “Winter Ticks on Moose and Other Ungulates: Factors Influencing Their Population Size,”[Once again the original link I had on studies by William Samuel and Dwight Welch is no longer valid. The actual study now is behind a pay wall. I will provide here a link to a preview of a book with the title I've shown. It is in this preview where the map of where moose ticks prevail is available.] states that winter ticks (dermacentor albipictus) being the cause of death isn’t certain because, “unequivocal evidence is lacking”.

I think therefore it might be honest to conclude that the cause of death in the majority of dead moose being found in the Maine woods that are inundated with ticks, was not the tick alone. There had to have been other factors. We’ll address those in a moment.

First I think it important to better understand what takes place in the fall of the year. We have read statements from biologists and outdoor sportsmen that seem to indicate that Maine needs little snow and very cold temperatures to kill off the ticks. While that may be true it’s not the entire story in the life cycle of these ticks.

Samuel and Welch state that for there to be significant die-offs of winter ticks, you need 6 consecutive days in which the temperature does not exceed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not the only way to kill the ticks and/or lessen the severity of ticks on moose.

During the fall months, in Maine’s climate around September and October, the winter tick larvae find their way onto vegetation. They clump together on the ends of small branches etc. These larvae can be found on vegetation just above the ground to quite high up in trees. The larvae wait until a passing, warm-bodied host, in this case a moose, passes by and then they attach themselves to the moose and the ride begins. You can read all the splendid details by reading the studies, etc.

It is during this time of year, September/October, that certain weather events can have a significant effect on how severe the tick season will become. Early cold temperatures, especially those below freezing, will greatly reduce the activity of the larvae, i.e. limiting their effectiveness of attaching themselves to the moose or even migrating up the stems of vegetation.

Early snows can bury the larvae and stiff fall winds will blow the larvae off the vegetation scattering it around and to the ground preventing the larvae from being able to find a host. The studies of Samuel and Welch, as well as others [original link can no longer be found], seem to agree that the weather events of the fall have a greater effect on tick production than hoping for enough snow and cold in winter to kill the ticks. Without a host, the larvae die.

There are other interesting things to be discovered about moose and winter ticks. For example, these winter ticks bother all wild ungulates, i.e. deer, moose, elk, etc., but most scientists will agree that it seems to be the moose that is the most effected. It is assumed that it all has to do with timing.

The aggregation of the larvae on vegetation seems to more closely fall in line with the timing of the moose mating season. During this time, moose are most active, covering greater amounts of territory than normal and male moose travel more than the females and thus explains the observation by some that it seems bull moose are more effected by the winter ticks than cows. I believe this conclusion about bull moose vs. cow moose is based on assumptive reasoning than anything concluded through scientific study.

In the Samuel/Welch study, experiments were conducted and it was determined that moose have an aversion to larvae/tick infested food. Imagine if they didn’t. If moose have an ability to smell or sense the larvae on the vegetation and in their food, it might also help to explain the claims of some and what is obvious on the ground that predators and scavengers won’t touch the dead carcass of a tick infested moose.

Studies have shown us that there can exist tens of thousands of ticks on any one moose and that this number of ticks can certainly put the moose into a weakened state. Moose are already in a weakened state just trying to survive the winters. Compound that with 50,000 ticks and the problems snowball. However, as we have learned, the ticks alone rarely kill a moose but certainly contribute to it.

When the blood sucking begins, the moose spends much of it’s time “grooming”. Studies tell us that moose that are troubled by the biting ticks do not bed down as often nor as long as non infected moose. This of course tires the animal even more.

While studies seem to be lacking on exactly what happens to the composition of the moose’s blood while all these ticks are feasting, it is honest to assume that the more female, blood sucking ticks there are on a moose, factoring also the moose’s body mass, the greater a weakened state is realized due to loss of blood.

All of these factors and more, make the moose more vulnerable to all the other elements that contribute to normal winter kill. In other words, it becomes more difficult to get enough nourishment; loss of blood and reduced winter hair makes the moose more susceptible to hypothermia; spending so much time “grooming” expends valuable energy needed for survival and with all these losses a moose certainly could not ward off attacks and harassment by predators.

This is perhaps where I’ll get ambushed but please consider the facts and possibilities. There is no denying that coyotes/wolves will harass and kill moose, deer and elk during their weakened winter states. Even though it is seen and believed to be accurate that predators and even scavengers will not touch a tick-infested moose carcass, at what point does a pack of hungry wolves/coyotes know their target is tick infested.

Some of us have been made aware through written and video accounts of how these predators take down and kill, often eating alive, their prey. We have also seen videos and photographs that document coyotes and wolves chasing down their prey. How long could a moose, weakened by normal winter strains and tick infestation, last in trying to run away from a predator attack? Not long I’m afraid. Would the moose have survived if the predator wasn’t there? There’s no way of knowing the answer to that question.

Which brings us once again back to the same point about predators. It seems that when all things within our forests are going well, little concern is given to predators and the effects they have on our game animals. When things get skewed, those populations of predators loom large over the forests and can raise some serious cane even to a point of prohibiting the rebuilding of a herd of deer or moose, in this case a herd that might be suffering some from these blasted ticks.

So, what do we do about the ticks? What can we do? In one report a gentleman suggested some kind of spraying program to kill the ticks but I’m not sure how feasible that is or if that’s something we want to pour onto our landscapes. We can’t control the weather but we can control the predators. But, is that the answer either to this exact equation?

In George Smith’s blog post yesterday, he explained that one Dr. Anthony who attended a recent information session on Maine’s moose, suggested that instead of trying to limit hunting permits for moose to protect them due to increased mortality from ticks, that killing more of the moose might be the better solution.

I’ll leave you with some questions. Feel free to chime in below in the comments section with some answers.

1. According to George Smith’s blog post I referenced above, in 2007 the estimated moose population of Maine was 45,000. Now Lee Kantar, Maine’s head deer and moose biologist claims there are 75,000 or more. Are there now too many moose in Maine which is exacerbating the tick problem?

2. If so, do we kill more moose during the moose hunt? Or do we protect more moose?

3. George Smith states that the new moose counts are, “more credible than any previous estimates”. He offers no substantive proof of his claim. Do you think the new counts are more “credible” or accurate than previous and why?

Who would have thought 35 years ago Maine would be asking if the state had too many moose?

Maine IFW Reduces Moose Permits

*Editor’s Note* – The below press release states that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has opted to reduce the number of “female moose permits available” due to “the impact of winter tick.” It should be noted that hunters and other outdoor sportsmen have been saying for a few years now that ticks were one of the things killing off moose and yet what we were hearing was that Maine’s moose population had grown to where some estimated it to be approaching 100,000.

MDIFW should be commended for taking action to mitigate the moose losses. However, at the same time I cannot help but question some of the information that we are being given in this press release and other previous media reports. The release says there was a loss of 30% of female moose where normally it would be 10%. We are not told the mortality rate of male moose (assuming this includes calves). If those numbers are accurate, along with estimates of total moose populations at 75,000, combined with an estimated 1:1 ratio of males to females, 11,250 female moose died this winter (again, assuming this is total mortality). If we make the assumption that if 30% of female moose died from all effects of winter, then can we also conclude that male moose died at a rate of 30%, or higher? That would mean total winter mortality on moose stands at around 22,500 creatures. That’s serious!

Hopefully, the ongoing moose study will also provide biologists with more accurate information (that will be shared) on where the calf recruitment stands. If that number is below sustainable levels, Maine has a very serious moose issue, which helps to explain why Lee Kantar and company recommended a reduction in cow moose permits by 1,015.

Let’s not lose track of the fact of the mixed messages that have been coming out of MDIFW during this long, difficult winter. First of note is that Kyle Ravana, MDIFW’s new head deer biologist, said in late March that he estimated the winter mortality on deer to be 12%. Can we even take that estimate seriously considering Kantar’s estimate of 30% moose loss? Granted ticks don’t bother deer like moose but if those numbers are accurate then perhaps Maine’s tick problem is more of a problem than we are being told….or it’s something else.

Second mixed message deals with a claim that was made by Lee Kantar and reported on the WCSHTV website back on May 2, that the Maine population “was holding steady.” That was qualified with a “however” however. The however being that Kantar “suspects” the new and ongoing moose study will reveal a lower than expected calf recruitment. Why and how does this, if at all, contribute to a 30% winter mortality on moose? MDIFW appears to be doing a lousy job of getting information out to the public in any kind of accurate and consistent fashion. Get it? On May 2 we are told the moose population is holding steady but calf recruitment may be a concern. on May 9, we are told the moose population was cut by 30% and a substantial reduction in moose permits is forthcoming. In seven days all this was discovered? It makes little sense.

Who are we then to believe and why?

And on a related note, it appears that this past winter was one of those winters that all the wildlife managers have been asking for to reduce the population of winter ticks. It will be of great interest to me to learn just how much effect it will have. The excuse has always been global warming and with that excuse the lamentation that “what we need are some old fashioned winters with cold temperatures and heavy snow to kill off the ticks,” has bounced around in the echo chamber for years. WE SHALL SEE!

AUGUSTA, Maine — Due to a peak year for winter ticks and their impact on the moose population this winter, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is reducing the number of moose permits available to hunters this fall.

Earlier today, The IFW’s advisory council accepted the department’s recommendation to reduce the number of moose permits available for the 2014 season. This fall, the department will issue 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.

“Based upon the research of our biologists, I feel it is prudent to decrease the number of female moose permits available,” said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “Decreasing the amount of permits will help lessen the impact of winter tick on the state’s moose population.”

In particular, the department decreased the number of antlerless only permits that are available to hunters. Antlerless only permits were decreased in wildlife management Districts 1-5, 7-9 and 12-13. This is the northern and northwestern part of Maine, including the northern portions of Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

Winter ticks have been documented in Maine since the 1930s. Periodically, there are peak years when the number of ticks increase substantially.

Each year, IFW biologists sample moose for winter tick densities at moose registration stations during the moose hunt. This past fall, biologists noted one of the highest tick counts in the past 10 years.

In making the recommendation to reduce permits, IFW biologists also used data from the radio collar moose study that is ongoing. Early data from the study shows that there was about a 30 percent mortality rate for adult females, which is above the average 10 percent winter mortality rate for female moose.

IFW wildlife biologists have also documented a number of moose winter kills throughout the state. Many of the moose carcasses are engorged with winter ticks, and some are practically bare of hair as they have tried to rub the ticks off.

“Maine has had winter tick for decades, and Maine’s moose population has encountered peak tick years before, as they happen periodically,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar. “Even with the increase in ticks this year, by decreasing the number of antlerless permits available, we can continue to meet our population objectives for moose.”

Time Running Out to Apply for Maine Moose Hunting Permit

Online applications must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on May 14. You can apply online now at www.mefishwildlife.com. Don’t wait until the last minute!

This year’s moose permit lottery winners will be announced on June 14 at the Moose Lottery Festival at the University of Maine Presque Isle.

Permit winners and their subpermittees will be able to hunt in one of the Department’s 25 wildlife management districts (WMDs) which cover more than 21,000 square miles.

For more information on the moose lottery, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

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

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.”

Snowmobilers Who Followed Moose Under Investigation

I posted the story a few days ago of a New Hampshire couple snowmobiling in Northern Maine, near their camp, and while following a moose on the trail ended up being attacked by the moose. In my commentary I suggested that after reviewing the video taken of the incident that it appeared to me the two people snowmobiling were too close to the moose and the moose didn’t like it, stopped and attacked. It now appears the incident is being investigated by the Maine Warden Service.

According to the Kennebec Journal, after much ado over the YouTube video of the occurrence, the Maine Warden Service will look into the matter to see if the New Hampshire couple was actually “harassing”, by definition, the moose. Charges could be filed.

In the Kennebec Journal article the man who eventually gets whacked by the moose said, “It looks like we were right on top of the moose, but we were maybe 50 feet from the moose.” In my opinion, 50 feet is too close. He said he was an “experienced” snowmobiler and has seen “dozens of moose” while riding and that he and his wife generally stay 100 feet behind any moose.

In my opinion, 100 feet is also too close. I have no reason to believe this couple was intentionally “harassing”, by definition, this moose. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Warden Service should jump all over this incident and use it as a learning tool to explain to the people about the vulnerability of moose and deer, especially this time of year. Any action that forces a moose or deer to run or “trot” to flee danger is a potential life-threatening situation for the animal. People need to be made cognizant of that fact and fully respect the animal.

N.H. Couple Snowmobiling Gets Attacked by Moose

On Saturday, I was sent a link to a story and a video of a New Hampshire couple snowmobiling near Jackman, Maine near the Canadian border recently. The story tells of how the moose, “suddenly veered off the snowmobile track, turned around and charged them.” I watched the video and was left with what I thought was a reasonable question: Why were they following this moose in the manner they were, forcing the moose to move at an accelerated pace, especially during this time of year?

The time of the year is April in Northern Maine. At time most critical for wild ungulates, i.e. deer and moose. Fat reserves are all gone, green-up is still a few weeks away so food is in short supply and the animals are probably emaciated from carrying around winter moose ticks. In short, the moose is in no condition to be fleeing from the pursuit of two snowmobiles.

In the article linked to above, it states that the couple reported the incident to “authorities” and they, “told them that the situation was handled properly.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. Did they handle the situation properly because they notified authorities, or were they told following the moose, perhaps causing the moose to turn and attack, was the right thing to do?

From my perspective, and yes I was not there, the video tells a different story. Under the circumstances I have described above, it is my opinion that these people should not have been chasing a moose down the snowmobile trail. Their actions caused the moose to stop the relentless pursuit and attack his tormenter.

It seems I was not completely alone in my thinking, as later in the day, I received another link to this story. A New Hampshire wildlife official who viewed the same video said, “So I hate to be judgmental, but clearly if they had followed it for a while, there’s a chance it pushed the animal to its limits and it decided to become a bit more aggressive in protecting itself.”

Sometimes people should show a bit more patience and respect for animals like this and just stop and take a break and see if the moose is going to go about his business, eventually getting out of the way. The video shows the two snowmobilers hot on the moose trail; something that shouldn’t be done at anytime of the winter.