December 18, 2014

A Collection of Moose Parts Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Moose Expert

Found in the Stowe, Vt. Stow Today, we read: “If you want a walking Wikipedia of the moose, not to mention the threats that assail it, then Alexander is your man.

In his jam-packed office in St. Johnsbury, he has vials of moose ovaries and ticks in all life stages, boxes of jawbones and antlers, teeth and other items that he brings on show-and-tells. He has every chart imaginable, from a tally of the just-finished hunt this year — he’s counted 147 so far, about as predicted — to how many moose have been killed by hunters since seasons began in 1999: about 6,150.”

Does collecting parts and pieces make for the “best” expert on moose? Just because a person has the largest automobile junkyard in the state doesn’t make them an expert auto mechanic necessarily.

Here are some issues not being addressed honestly which renders this article without a great deal of credibility. The first claim is that Vermont’s moose is in trouble. Is it? Is the moose in trouble because the state cannot maintain enough moose to satisfy all those interested in having more moose? When fish and game departments became fish and wildlife departments and decided decisions on wildlife management would be based mostly on the social demands of the public, the moose population has shown signs of fluctuation. Because it’s in a downward trend in some places, it is easy to claim the moose is in trouble and find nonsense issues to blame it on.

This article blames the decline of moose in Vermont on three issues: Brainworm, Winter Tick and Climate Change (global warming). Global warming is really a non starter because facts show us that the “climate” hasn’t warmed for at least a decade and yet those who make money from repeating the lies about climate change, beat the drum of unsubstantiated conclusions and predictions about global warming. If we listened to the “experts” we would have all been dead by now. It’s time to move on. Most of the world is very sick and tired of the bovine excrement surrounding the idiocy of man-caused global warming.

On the same token, it’s easy to blame the presence of winter ticks on global warming. This is done, for political reasons only as it appears even the so-called experts don’t even understand the simple life-cycle of the winter tick.

Left out of the discussion of moose management is whether or not attempting to create a moose population large enough to make money from selling moose hunting licenses and satisfy the social demands of those interested in driving around in climate-controlled cars observing moose, is the best scientific approach to managing a healthy moose herd. I contend it probably is not.

A couple of short years ago Maine bragged that their moose population might exceed 90,000; like that was a good thing. Is Maine really capable of sustaining 90,000 moose? Evidently not, because all indications are that the moose has realized significant die-offs, mostly due to winter ticks. Don’t any of these biologists think that perhaps 90,000 moose are too many and due to that fact alone, contributed to and/or is 100% responsible for the overwhelming presence of winter ticks? This in turn, created that “balance” few in this world understand is how Mother Nature does things. Isn’t this Biology 101? Too many animals breeds disease. Disease causes die-offs. If all things remained the same, except the outbreak of winter ticks continued to kill moose, doesn’t it make sense that once the moose are substantially reduced, we will be witness to a die-off of winter ticks? Is so, moose numbers will return and if allowed to return to the same high numbers, the up and down, unstable cycle of population changes will persist.

What good are we doing our moose populations when we parrot the nonsense of global warming and blame everything on this fake occurrence? In addition, because real science has been tossed out the window, in exchange for Post-Normal, or Romance science, states with moose might be attempting to provide more moose than the complete carrying capacity will allow. After all, carrying capacity is more than just food and forests.

So long as these romance writers, writing about romance scientists, persists, we cannot expect any substantial, effective and long lasting, real knowledge to be gained that creates a positive environment for real wildlife management.

The Shameful Saga of the Minnesota Moose

The following is an Abstract of a scientific research paper “Re-evaluating the northeastern Minnesota moose decline and the role of wolves”.

This research Paper was just published and can be found in The Journal of Wildlife Management 78(7) 1143-1150.

It was conducted and published by none other than Dr. Mech, the retired US Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf authority (still associated with the federal Wildlife research Center in Jamestown, ND and a major player with the August U of Minnesota Raptor Center). His co-author, Mr. Fieberg, is a biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The mind boggles at the “gravitas” here. Mr. Mech, a long-time and current resident of Minnesota is highly revered in Minnesota and known internationally for his lifelong efforts to “bring back” wolves in The Lower 48 States. Dr. Mech resides in Minnesota and is held in as high regard in Minnesota as the latest running back of the Vikings football team. When he authors a paper on Minnesota wolves and Minnesota moose in cooperation with a DNR biologist under the auspices of the University of Minnesota; there can be no greater authorities nor can there be any greater acceptance about the results than had ex-Vikings Coach Bud Grant commented on Vikings football or Hubert Humphrey, rest his soul, commented on the upcoming election.

To the newspaper editors and outdoor writers that have treated me like an idiot for asking them to publicize or at least acknowledge that wolf predation on Minnesota moose was both significant and very likely the #1 reason for the recent decline of moose from a highly sought and profitable Game Animal to a Non-Game Species curiosity; and to the silent DNR and U of Minnesota “scientists” that publicly pooh-poohed the role of wolves in the moose decline and thereby gave encouragement to the general public and said newspaper folks and writers to be amused at my writing and to accuse me of not knowing what I was talking about both verbally to others and in e-mails – Please go to the Abstract at the bottom of this e-mail and read the 2nd sentence (my bold/underlining) of the 4 sentence Abstract.
Others are invited to do the same.

This is not about me: it is about the dithering and politically correctness about fear of offending powerful Minnesota and national environmental extremists and animal rights radicals that will truck NO negative comments about wolves. While this disgraceful diversion about ticks and global warming killing moose was taking place and common sense folks like me and many of those forced to live day in and day out with intolerable wolf densities were marginalized; one more magnificent and highly-prized game animal and hunting tradition disappeared.

Now that what has really been undeniable for years can no longer be denied, I say (without a hint of sarcasm or irony) we will now probably be treated to years of “science” and “the need for more research and money” to find ways to:
1. Control wolf predation without killing wolves.
2. Identify offending wolves and live trap them to train them not to hurt moose.
3. Keep seeing hints of ticks and global warming as being the problem with massive needs for more money for more research that can never be resolved or concluded.
4. Admit finally that the DNR has exhausted all the money generated by hunting license sales and there is no longer any Excise Taxes from the sales of Arms and Ammunition since President Hillary and a Democrat Congress and State government banned lead and then guns.

The loss of moose was as simple to understand as why high free-range cat densities in a suburban enclave might be the cause of the increased paucity of songbirds at suburban birdfeeders. The solution to both the loss of songbirds and the loss of moose is to reduce and keep reduced the densities – and perhaps even the presence of said cats and wolves’ if we prize moose hunts and what they mean or if we and our families enjoy seeing birds at our birdfeeders. Any North Country resident could have told us this years ago but what do they know? They have no initials after their name nor do they have any government sponsors or urban Romance Biology experts at an auspicious University to confirm their views.

ABSTRACT:

We re-evaluated findings from Lenarz et al. (2009) that adult moose (Alces alces) survival in northeastern Minnesota was related to high January temperatures and that predation by wolves (Canis lupus) played a minor role. We found significant inverse relationships between annual wolf numbers in part of the moose range and various moose demographics from 2003 to 2013 that suggested a stronger role of wolves than heretofore believed. To re-evaluate the temperature findings, we conducted a simulation study, mimicking the approach taken by Lenarz et al. (2009), to explore the potential for concluding a significant relationship exists between temperature and survival, when no association exists. We found that the high R2s and low probabilities associated with the regression models in Lenarz et al. (2009) should be viewed cautiously in light of the large number of fitted models (m?=?45) and few observations (n?=?6 for each of 5 response variables).

Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Jim Beers
22 October 2014

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net

The Moose With the Crumpled Horn

It was reported to me, along with the enclosed photograph, that during this season’s moose hunt in Maine, Kenny Brackett of Rangeley bagged this young bull moose showing the crumpled right antler.

CrumpledHorn

From When the New York Times Printed Truth

By Jim Beers

The following link to a New York Times article from 1907 should be considered by all those currently living in wolf country; those living in soon-to-be wolf country; and those supporting the forcible use of unjust central power to force wolves on their neighbors and fellow citizens.

Wolf History:

Wolves Killing Deer

The New York Times Published: May 26, 1907
http://tinyurl.com/ku9n5cn

When I try to explain to fellow Minnesotans the role of dense wolf populations on the disappearance of moose and deer, they smirk and sneer. They talk of global warming, ticks, unspecified diseases and the need for more research. Newspapers, Universities (especially the U of Minnesota and the U of Wisconsin that are true hotbeds of environmental/animal rights extremism), and State wildlife agencies that have become clones of these State Universities all avoid the mention of wolf predation and identify anyone questioning this as an uninformed crackpot.

Nonetheless, consider how everyone accepts the “fact” that year-around wolf predation on Isle Royale, an island far offshore in Lake Superior, steadily accounts for the disappearance of moose. This romantic notion of “Mother Nature” at work makes the very efficient but gory killing of calves, pregnant cows and adult moose by wolves into a “natural” and entertaining children’s story. The same scenario when proposed by hunters, trappers, ranchers, elderly rural residents and others regarding wolf effects on deer and moose in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is merely proof of “old”, uninformed and anti-social political incorrectness.

There is no denying the following simple truths about wolves in settled landscapes like the Lower 48 States:
– Wolves kill moose and deer, reducing them to levels that will not sustain hunting.
– Wolves spread over 30 deadly and destructive diseases to humans, wildlife, livestock and dogs.
– Wolves are dangerous and deadly threats to children, the elderly, dog walkers, hikers, and a wide array of rural residents and recreationists.

The thing to remember about wolf predation; whether on an adult moose caught in a snowy woodland by a group of wolves, a pregnant cow moose giving birth caught by one or more wolves, a doe deer and fawn run down by a couple of wolves – IT IS ADDITIVE to whatever else is happening to moose and deer. Even if you accept global warming (I do not) or think maybe ticks or some errant and unknown disease has just popped up (each of which I find unlikely as significant until I see evidence I can trust) – wolf predation is steadily more and more efficient as wolves learn (just like that dog in your backyard) AND IT IS ADDITIVE!

Consider again that 1907 NYT article. In addition to what we deny as it is all around us today, weather phenomena like the winter snow depths, snow characteristics, and snow duration can and will create an environment wherein suddenly wolf predation both for food and for the joy and fun of killing (even dog packs will kill a large number of deer in snow or sheep by cliffs for “fun” and “excitement”) will dramatically reduce the number of deer and moose regardless of the “experts” protestations to the contrary.

When wolves are not kept at very low densities or eradicated from regions inhabited by people like the Lower 48 States or Europe, what happened in 1907 will happen again and again. This article is about but ONE of many reasons wolves were eradicated in The Lower 48 States and Europe by our wise and determined ancestors.

Two years before this article, in 1905, George Santyana, a 19th century philosopher and author said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Some say Santyana was paraphrasing the 18th century Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke who observed, “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” Posterity is truly what we no longer concern ourselves about as abortion, birth control, births out-of-wedlock and non-child-oriented marriages proliferate in these very same American and European societies looking to secular morality and self-gratification in matters like “restoring the native ecosystem” and returning large predators to settled landscapes no matter the human costs.

In either case, both men were telling us to heed the lessons of history. In the case of wolves, environmental extremists and self-serving politicians and bureaucrats have not only denied history: they have perpetrated a great crime against Americans and Europeans in a way that relieves them of responsibility for their actions and the terrible fruits of their crime.

One last quote from Edmund Burks seems in order:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Jim Beers
15 Sep. 2014

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others. Thanks.
Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting. You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to: jimbeers7@comcast.net

Maine’s Moose Hunt Opens September 22, 2014

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — On Monday, September 22, over a thousand moose hunters will enter the woods, embarking on what many call the hunt of a lifetime.

While Monday marks the first day of moose season in northern and eastern Maine, the moose season is divided into four segments and continues throughout the fall during the weeks of October 13-18, November 3-8 and November 3-29 in southern Maine. In all, 3,095 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine this year.

Regulated hunting seasons is how the department controls Maine’s moose population, estimated at approximately 65,000 to 70,000 animals. Maine’s moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting.

The number of permits issued for each moose hunting district varies depending on moose population density in the district and publicly derived populations objectives, such as managing for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety (reducing moose-vehicle collisions) or a combination of both.

“By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth,” said Lee Kantar, IFW’s moose biologist. “In the northern part of the state, the goal is to reduce the moose population, and in other areas, stabilize or increase the population.”

Last year, with over 4,000 permits issued, 2,971 moose hunters were successful, translating to nearly three out of every four moose hunters getting a moose. The 72 percent success rate is in stark contrast to bear or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18 to 25 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with over 53,577 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.

This year, the number of moose permits issued to hunters was decreased. The department issued 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.

“Based upon our research, we felt this was necessary,” said Kantar. “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 or cow 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 increased substantially, and last year was a peak year. The number of moose permits were reduced to offset the impact of the high tick year.

All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at an area tagging station. At these stations, IFW wildlife biologists collect data that provides insight into moose population health.

Biologists will measure antler beam width and diameter. A tooth is removed in order to determine the age of the moose. Ticks are counted on four different areas of the moose to compare numbers to years past. In later weeks, moose hunters who shoot a female moose are required to bring the ovaries, which are examined to determine reproductive success.

This biological data is combined with data from the ongoing moose radiocollar study, as well as the aerial moose population and composition surveys to give biologists a clearer picture of the health and status of Maine’s moose herd.

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?