Photo by Al Remington
Pity 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.
“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>>>
The headline above is essentially the statement made by Maine’s head moose biologist Lee Kantar. Specifically he said, “Winter ticks have been documented in Maine since the 1930s. Periodically, there are peak years when the number of ticks increase substantially.”
In a weekly column in the Sun Journal by outdoor writer V. Paul Reynolds, he states that: “Biologists reported from tagging station information last fall that the tick count on harvested moose was the highest in ten years!”
Isn’t then the logical progression of questions to be asked as follows?
1. If winter moose ticks have been “documented” since the 1930s has there also been “documented” complications similar to those that are now supposedly killing Maine’s moose?
2. If we have been utilizing a moose hunting season, if only by lottery in limited numbers, to assist with the management of moose populations since 1980 when 700 moose permits were issued, during the past 33 years has MDIFW “documented” any irregularities in moose populations due to the winter tick?
3. Can we assume that checking for and “documenting” winter ticks on moose has taken place at tagging stations since Maine’s first modern-day moose hunt in 1980?
4. If, as stated above, the tick count on moose reported at tagging stations this year, was the highest in ten years, then there must have been higher tick counts prior to 2003?
5. If there have been higher tick counts on moose “documented” since 1980, what then was the result of moose mortality estimations during those times?
6. We know that so-called “scientists” during the 1970s were attempting to find ways of scamming money out of taxpayers by claiming that the world was going to freeze to death because of global cooling. That didn’t work so the same and other so-called “scientists” tried scaring people with global warming. If winter ticks have been “documented” since the 1930s and according to so-called “scientists” we have gone through a global cooling period, a global warming period, and are now entering into another global cooling period, how then can so-called scientists, wildlife biologists, environmentalists and all the other “ists” claim that global warming is the cause of increased numbers of winter ticks? Especially if we surmise that there must have been higher tick counts prior to the past ten years.
Without spending a great deal of time plotting data and thoroughly examining reports such as Lee Kantar’s 2006 report Status of the Maine Deer Herd and William Krohn’s Historical Ecology of the White-tailed Deer in Maine, it appears as though there may be a correlation between high tick counts followed the next year by a severe winter. I believe the last event similar to this year may have happened in 2002-2003. Of course if this is true, then one might be able to blow the global warming, winter tick correlation out of the water; which wouldn’t be a bad idea as I personally believe the global warming attribution to everything under the sun, pun intended, is nothing more than a poor distraction that wrongfully disrupts real and good scientific study.
One would also have to wonder if and what the similarities are in moose populations in New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and Canada. It may be as simple as a natural event of warm, cold, ticks, moose and when there’s too many of some or all, things happen. Nature isn’t in balance. It’s a dynamic and changing existence – and with all of this, we must include the changing dynamics of the effects of predators.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
A guest post by Jim Beers:
Although I enjoy a good joke, I don’t generally share them with a wide audience but this is an exception.
* After 30 + years of Minnesota “scientists, bureaucrats and self-righteous environmentalists” warbling incessantly about the marvelous wonders of nature’s “apex” predator (i.e. the wolf) REDUCING the moose population on Isle Royale National Park since the wolf’s vaunted passage across an 18 mile “ice bridge” on Lake Superior from Minnesota 50 years ago.
* After constant annual newspaper articles about how vegetation has “returned” and “recovered” and blossomed (so to speak) on Isle Royale since the wonderful wolves REDUCED the moose and thus relieved the pressure on the plant life that was never quite so important or desirable that hunting to MAINTAIN the desirable numbers, distribution and density of moose (as well as support other wildlife management on the Park and in the State) to achieve the highly stupendous plant communities that are so touted from sea to shining sea.
* After 15 + years of explanations by “scientists, bureaucrats and self-righteous environmentalists” in annual newspaper articles about how there was ABSOLUTELY NO RELATIONSHIP between the steady disappearance of moose on the Minnesota mainland and the steady increase of protected wolves throughout the range of the mainland moose until the recent permanent closure of moose hunting in Minnesota.
* After 10 + years of “scientists, bureaucrats and self-righteous environmentalists” out West in Yellowstone Park and Idaho/Montana surroundings copy-catting this scam by denying wolf numbers they found politically-incorrect; inflating elk and moose numbers with lame excuses about census-affecting weather anomalies, changing migration patterns and bad Karma; denying vehemently that the simultaneous loss of elk and moose hunting that coincided with the introduction, protection and spread of wolves were related.
* After 5 + years of watching Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington wildlife bureaucracies claim “slightly increasing”, “steady” or “declining” wolf populations as hunters, ranchers, dog owners and rural residents’ screams and objections have reached crescendo levels it is becoming evident that “trust” is not a word to be mentioned when discussing “scientists, bureaucrats and self-righteous environmentalists’ and “wolves”. Keep in mind that even estimates of annual changes for (notoriously hard to count) wolves are only slightly easier to generate than “counting” the field mice in the state, much less to fabricate these”nine-hundred and eighty-THREE” or “three thousand eight-hundred and sixty-two” wolf “count” placebos for friends and foes.
* After all of the above being conjured up as “science” to bamboozle hunters, befuddle ranchers and generally flim-flam rural Americans and their political representatives AND NOW as “some of the people some of the time” seem to be waking up about the disappearing Minnesota moose and now deer, and the loss of elk, moose and deer in states where wolves have become ubiquitous in the West: along comes this fortuitous “discovery” that:
1. Moose “COME BACK” after being decimated by wolves. So quit whining hunters and admit the “scientists, bureaucrats and self-righteous environmentalists” were right. Take up curling and TV for a couple of years and everything will be back the way you once had it. We’ll call you when it happens.
2. Wolf numbers decline and STAY LOW. So shut up you ranchers, dog owners, parents and rural residents and recreationists: you don’t know what you are talking about! Either take the easements we offer and live as we say or move elsewhere.
3. Soon, wolves and moose (and elk, deer, wild and domestic sheep , goats and cattle, et al?) will be “in balance” and everyone will be happy.
Those wolves and moose on Isle Royale are as comparable to mainland American, Canadian and European wolves and their impacts as are articles about Russian landowner/peasant relations in the Middle Ages relevant to modern US college athlete lawsuits to unionize college athletes for pay and collective bargaining rights from University administrators.
Isle Royale wolves have no – deer, elk, horses, foals, cows, calves, dogs, domestic sheep and lambs, bighorn sheep, rural garbage pits, nighttime rural town and residence yards and outbuildings, school bus stops, sleeping campers, etc., etc. to shift to when the clearly vulnerable moose cows and moose calves get scarce (due to??). The answer is “wolf predation”. They also do not have constant genetic infusions from dogs, coyotes and every manner of Canid attracted to females in estrus from miles and miles in every direction as do the wolves on the mainlands.
Articles like the one below are so absurd as to be humorous. They are probably written by activist government employees and writers that moonlight under nom de plumes of romance novels written for young girls and what sailors once referred to as “skin books”.
I recommend you dismiss such romance propaganda but if you read it, read it for the unintended humor it contains and imagine Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon explaining it. Remember all this as deer and elk disappear and wolves get more and more “bold” around settlements and dogs become liabilities and ranchers reduce herds and rural towns decline further. Remember Isle Royale and laugh.
3 April 2014
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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.