October 23, 2019

MDIFW: Maine’s Moose Population Estimated at 76,000 After Aerial Survey

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife now has its most accurate estimation of the state’s moose population thanks to a new aerial survey.

The Department currently estimates a population of 76,000 moose after using a double count technique the last two winters where two observers independently reported the number of moose observed while flying in a helicopter over northern and eastern Maine.

During the winter of 2010-2011, the Department used the technique, adapted from Quebec and New Brunswick where it was utilized to count deer, to survey Wild Management Districts (WMDs) 2, 3 and 6 with the help of the Maine Forest Service and funds from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

It was then decided that the aerial survey was far more accurate and efficient than the previously used methods, including transect counts from fixed wing, line-track intercept techniques, a modified Gasaway survey and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR).

“This new technique turned out to be a good and accurate way to look at moose across a big part of Maine, which we’ve never had the opportunity to do before,” said IFW Wildlife Biologist Lee Kantar. “It’s exciting to finally have the techniques to get so much information on moose in the state because the more we know about moose, the better able the department is to manage this magnificent resource for the people of Maine.”

Due to the right resources, equipment, help from the Maine Forest Service and funding from the federal Pittman-Robertson Fund, the Department was able to use the technique again this past winter and surveyed WMDs 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 11, and 19, all of which are in the core moose range of the state.

The Department did not survey southern Maine because the low moose population numbers in that area would likely add little to the total statewide population.

During the aerial survey, one observer sits in the front of the helicopter while the other sits in the back on the same side.

The area being surveyed is broken down into a grid and transects are flown through the grid with both observers reporting numbers of moose seen on a transect line to a data recorder. The data recorder tells the observers when the transect starts and stops so they are counting the same area at the same time. Density estimates are calculated for each area based on mark-resight techniques.

To view a video of another aerial survey technique in use to count the number of bulls, cows, and calves in a management unit, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVqyRu6i16M.

For more information, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

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Protection of Wolves In Maine Would Destroy What is Left of Fragile Economy and Ecosystem

Once again we are presented with a glaring example of much that is wrong with wildlife management, i.e being debated in an ignorant and biased media while supplied with information that is so far from the truth but geared only to play on the emotions of an ignorant and lazy populace.

CBC Canada News yesterday, published an article, which was nothing more than pretty much a copy and paste, unverified, unsubstantiated load of crap supplied by the Maine Wolf Coalition. The Maine Wolf Coalition (MWC) is asking the Department of Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to devise a “bi-national plan”, between the U.S. and Canada, to protect fabricated wolf subspecies in order to allow “for the natural recolonization (as opposed to reintroduction) of wolves in Maine and elsewhere in eastern North America where habitat and prey will support wolves.”

The problems with this chimerical fool’s paradise go far beyond anything our copy and paste media is willing to research, or even bother with seeking facts or differing opinions. In addition, Maine’s fish and wildlife department are seemingly avid true believers into the notion of “balanced ecosystems” and the need for predator protection. Odd isn’t it, or maybe even suspect, that the citizens’ brains are bred to trust government, to rely on what fish and game, so-called, experts say because they utilize “science” in rendering decisions and making choices. The difficulty here, that when attempting to expose it one gets scoffed and ridiculed, is that this notion of “natural regulation” and how “predators make for healthy ecosystems” is only ideological theorizing in which none of it is substantiated by real science. Today’s “science” is more based on wishful thinking, computer modeling and fulfilling agendas while playing on the emotions of people to keep the coffers filled.

Aside from the fact that the Maine Wolf Coalition is lying when in reference to a killing of a wolf hybrid in New Brunswick, it says, “The New Brunswick wolf was determined to be a gray/eastern wolf hybrid. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) abuses the definitions of subspecies, especially as it concerns wolves, in order to fulfill their agendas. Historically, we know there once where some kind of wolf in Maine. All wolves are the descendents of the same canid species and the wavering and ever-changing definitions of wolf subspecies only is relevant in perpetrating predator protections, while stealing away people’s rights.

Historical accounts of wolves in Maine, dating back to the early 1600s, strongly suggest that while wolves certainly were present, they were so only because caribou roamed the state as well. Some believe that hunters killed off the caribou but historic documents show that for unknown reasons caribou migrated out of the state, almost overnight, and the wolves followed them, never to return. This of course is NEVER discussed because it fails to fit nicely into agenda-driven narratives.

It was determined a few years ago, through DNA testing, that so-called coyotes in the East, were nothing more than a hybrid, i.e. a fancy name for a mongrel. Lest we forget basic biology, a dog is a dog is a dog. About the only natural thing that prevents more interbreeding among subspecies of wild canines is the instinct of territory protection. It is most often when growing members of a pack are forced out that wolves can and will mate with coyotes and your pet dog Rover.

The premise of the MWC’s desire for a “natural” recolonizing of wolves into Maine is mostly based on their fantasy that wolves are “important and necessary for a healthy ecosystem”. The task then becomes whether or not I, or a group of like-minded truth knowing individuals, can somehow convince the people that those who espouse to this fictitious “balance of nature” cannot prove their dogma scientifically, that is, the old fashioned way of seeking truth. They simply cannot prove their doctrine.

The MWC believes that an estimated 250,000 white tail deer and 50,000 moose spread out over Maine and New Brunswick, Canada is ample prey to support a protected wolf population. It is not and it is completely ignorant of facts to state so. All one needs to do is verify facts of what is happening on the ground in states where wolves already exist: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the numbers keep growing.

Each wolf will eat 12-19 elk a year to survive. When they can’t get that, combined with other prey species, they turn to private livestock – cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens, horses, dogs, etc. Maine doesn’t have elk or caribou. How many deer and moose, along with cattle, horses and sheep, equal 12-19 caribou?

Both Maine and New Brunswick are trying to figure out how it can rebuild destroyed whitetail deer herds and groups like MWC are suggesting protecting more of these mongrel dogs because they make healthy ecosystems? This notion is completely insane.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that Maine’s post hunt deer population may be under 200,000. At 12 deer a year being eaten by 500 wolves, that’s 6,000 deer destroyed in one year. In addition, we already know that the coyotes, when the snows are deep enough, will infiltrate the deer’s wintering yards and kill doe deer and rip out their fetuses. As soon as fawning season begins, the same varmints take to killing every fawn they can get their jaws onto. With fawn recruitment already running as low as 5 or 6 per 100 does, where 30% is considered sustainable, anyone with understanding quickly sees the deer herd would be destroyed.

And how is this making for a healthy ecosystem?

And while discussing mythology, MWC states that wolves, like the coyote, only kill the weak and sickly. This also is unsubstantiated theorizing. Wolves are opportunistic and kill whatever is at their disposal. For every so-called study that exists that suggests that wolves kill only weak prey, just as many exist that suggest that wolves, being a keen and wily hunter, have learned to pick out a preferred menu item. They can pick out the pregnant prey in order to feast on the succulent fetuses. And there is never any mention of sport killing by wolves which is substantiated fact.

MWC also declares that wolves would help the economy. This also is a fabrication. In states like Idaho and Montana, the presence of wolves has not only mostly destroyed the entire hunting industry, including license sales and guiding outfits, but is also chopping away at wiping out the livestock industry.

With the proliferation and protection of wolves comes disease. Canines carry more than 30 diseases, most of which are dangerous to humans and sometimes deadly and presents its own set of problems by infecting wild ungulates, i.e deer and moose. Large cysts that grow on deer and moose lungs, liver and other vital organs, does not for a healthy wildlife population make. The presence of cysts on deer and moose restrict their natural ability to flee large predators like wolves.

The short of it is, that protecting wolves, when we can’t even control coyotes that are destroying our wildlife populations, is folly only to those with personal agendas based in total disregard of the facts.

Tom Remington

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Maine Moose Permit Deadline Rapidly Approaching

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reminds everyone that they have until May 14th to apply for a Moose Permit!

This year’s lottery will take place at the Oquossoc Marina in Rangeley, Maine on June 23rd. Maine plans to award 3,725 permits this year. The winners will be announced first in Oquossoc, and then the entire list will be published.

To apply for a permit to hunt a moose you must apply on-line – the deadline for paper applications has passed.

www.maine.gov/ifw

If you’ve already applied for a permit, we thank you for your application. If you haven’t you can beat the rush of last minute filers!

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Alaska Moose Finds Rest and Warmth at a “Mootel Six”

The author of the below photographs was walking from his house, through an enclosed stairway and into the garage, when he spotted this moose. He writes: “from the top of the stairs I can see a napper laid up against the snow bank, chewing and napping in the 10 a.m. sunshine.”

He walked further down the stairs to the window to get a closer look and observe.

Moose settled in for a long late winter nap in the sunshine.

Photo by Al Remington

Snoring away!

Photo by Al Remington

Opting for a late check-out!

Photo by Al Remington

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You Don’t Mind If I Bed Down Here In Your Back Yard, Do You?

While shoveling the snow off the backside of his roof, an Alaska resident discovers a moose had bedded down in his back yard.


Photo by Al Remington

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Are Winter Ticks Killing Maine’s Moose Population?


Photo provided by Albert Ladd

Without even giving the debate on predator control in Maine a chance take root and accomplish goals, the debate now seems to be shifting toward the moose herd, including winter ticks and the new revelation that Maine has an estimated moose population of 75,000 or more.

Much of the fervor over winter ticks and moose began in early December when Terry Karkos, staff writer for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, penned an article about two guys who spent time in the woods last spring looking for shed antlers, found a lot of dead moose all covered with winter ticks.

He and a few friends said they found 50 dead moose calves and adult moose this year in the Jackman region while looking for horns and doing some spring fishing…………………

Eighteen people, including Mason, found 142 dead moose across Wildlife Management Districts 2, 4, 7, 8 and 12, which stretch from the Western Foothills to Aroostook County.

Those interviewed for the story attribute the deaths of these moose to winter ticks.

These are definitely not winter kill,” Mason said recently. “Of the typical winter kill animals like moose, it gets sick, it stands in a small area and basically you find 400 moose droppings and a dead moose in the middle of it………………………….

Every single one that I had found and that the other guys had found, the snow was just starting to come off them and they were totally untouched, so it’s obvious it’s not a predator kill,” Hall said. “You could see ticks right on them.

A deer and moose meat processor from Minot told Karkos, “I think we need a winter without any snow and about minus 30 (degrees) for a month and a half, because that’s the only way you’re going to get rid of them.”

That’s sort of the same story that seems to get spread around about winter ticks. There is information available and I think for the most part the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologists and others have done a respectable job getting out information about winter ticks.

In a November 6, 2011 Sun Journal article, once again Terry Karkos gets information from some of MDIFW’s biologists about the winter ticks.

Maine wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey:

Winter ticks are affected by what the previous winter was,” Hulsey said Friday. “If you have a lot of snow and a lot of cold, that’s not good for the ticks. If you have less snow and more warmth, it’s really good for the ticks.

Maine wildlife biologist Lee Kantar:

In October and November, winter tick larvae climb shrubs and grasses, gather in huge clusters and wait to ambush moose as they walk past, Kantar said.

“When the ticks are on that bush and they sense the heat of the moose walking by, they basically grab a hold and the whole cluster of moose tick gets onto the moose,

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, 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” 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, 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?

Tom Remington

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Maine Hunters Funding Efforts to Provide Moose Watching For Tourists

George Smith, former executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and current free-lance writer who covers many of Maine’s outdoor issues, filed a report on his blog yesterday about activities that took place at the meeting of the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Part of Smith’s article included a report on moose by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW), Lee Kantar, head deer and moose biologist.

Kantar claimed that Maine would be leading the nation in moose research and management and described new research initiatives, including surveys using Maine Forest Service helicopters and pilots………………..

“We’ve gone a long way… but it’s limited,” acknowledged Kantar. When asked by Rep. Jane Eberle how many moose we have, Kantar said he couldn’t answer that question definitively. But he did provide an estimate of 75,000 moose, a very high number that will embolden those calling for more hunting permits. Kantar warned against that, noting the importance of balancing all demands for moose from tourism to hunting.

There are a couple things to note in this information. If Kantar says he “estimates” 75,000, historically all wildlife biologists low ball estimates. So how many moose does Maine really have? 100,000? Regardless, at the rate the state is going the moose herd will soon outnumber the deer herd.

Which brings me to another point to be made. Yesterday I reported on efforts by the State of Maine to make the Moose Lottery more fair. In that article I suggested the idea of a mocked down version of the current “Any-Deer Permit” system, the only deer management policy the state employs. The question now becomes one of asking if a continued deer hunt in a shrinking deer herd is good enough for deer management, shouldn’t a short moose hunting season be good enough for moose management?

But the issue I wanted to point out is what is wrong with wildlife management today. Mr. Kantar states that Maine needs to be careful about killing more moose because it might mess with the “balancing all demands for moose from tourism to…..” Where is the science in that? Why are my license fees being used to provide moose watching opportunities while limiting my opportunities to hunt the game species I’m investing in? Maine is trying to generate tax revenue through tourism out of the wallets of the outdoor sportsmen. Where will it all end? It all makes me very ill!

Also consider how Maine’s game management, if you want to call it that, has changed over the years. What once was a deer hunting mecca, the Great North Woods of Maine, has now become a paradise for providing moose for tourists to look at and putting video cameras in bear dens, how cute, which no doubt will result in more demands by environmentalists and animal rights advocates to stop hunting and killing black bears and moose.

Below is a “Metamorphosis Part I and Part II” of a Maine Deer Biologist as compiled by contributor Richard Paradis of Maine. Maybe, just maybe, this closer resembles reality than tongue in cheek and also consider the prophetic claims, laced with environmental truths of today.

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Kenai, Alaska Moose


Photo by Al Remington

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