March 6, 2013
On February 20, 2013, I posted a press release sent out by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) about the discovery of echinococcus granulosus (E.G.) cysts found in moose. You can read that press release by clicking this link.
In addition to posting the press release, I also offered information about the disease to help readers obtain more knowledge and a better understanding of the real threats from this disease, frankly because I didn’t think the MDIFW press release contained enough information to help people make an honest assessment of the risks, which should become part of their decision making on outdoor excursions as well as proper care and prevention around the house.
With the help of a reader in finding it, the MDIFW posted some information on their website about E.G. While still inadequate, a small increment of changes were added to the original press release so positive actions are taking place.
To help readers better understand these tiny changes, I have posted the same information as can be found on the MDIFW website but took the liberty to highlight a few things there were added or omitted.
Over the last three years Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been collaborating with the University of Maine Animal Health Lab in examining the presence of lungworms (Dictyocaulus spp.) in moose. Lungworms have been noted in moose that have been found dead in late winter with heavy winter tick loads and the combination of both parasites has been implicated as a cause of calf mortality.
This past fall, students once again increased sampling intensity of moose lungs from harvested animals. This led to the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab, finding Echinococcus granulosus (E.G.) cysts in some moose lungs. EG is a very small tapeworm that has a two part lifecycle; one in canids (coyotes/foxes/domestic dogs) and the second in moose. There are several known genotypes of this tapeworm, and genetic testing of the Maine tapeworms found that this EG is the northern, or least pathogenic, form. Although Echinococcus granulosus can infect humans, the form that is known to do so most often is the sheep-dog genotype. Finding the northern, wild-type form of EG in moose in Maine suggests that likely wild canids in Maine are infected and that possibly domestic dogs are infected as well, and that fact may allow for human exposure to this parasite. It is also very likely that we have coexisted with these tapeworms for years with no apparent problems having not actively looked for them prior to this work.
The adult tapeworm lives in the intestines of the canid host, while the larval form lives in the lungs or liver of an infected moose. Humans may become infected by [original press release included the word 'ingesting'] eggs of the parasite, which can be picked up by contact with canid feces.
In conjunction with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and University of Maine Animal Health Lab/Cooperative extension, we recommend [original release used 'the Department'] the following:
* Hunters avoid harvesting sick or injured animals. [This was added]
* Hunters and trappers should always wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing animals.
* Wild game meat should be thoroughly cooked.
* People should avoid contact with dead wild animals
* People should avoid contact with carnivore feces [This was added]
* After consultation with your veterinarian, regularly deworm pets with a product that works on tapeworms [what is emboldened was added]
* Do not let domestic pets eat the organs from either hunter-harvested animals or from “road kill” animals [This entire warning was added]
* Practice good personal hygiene-wash hands and contaminated clothes, especially after handling animals or anything that could be contaminated with feces [entire warning was added]
On a positive note, it appears that the MDIFW is getting better educated about E.G. I will continue to send them information in hopes they are willing to gain better understanding and knowledge.
What hasn’t been brought out in either the original press release or this information posted on MDIFW’s website, is that if moose have these E.G. cysts, more than likely the whitetail deer, if they don’t have them now, soon will. As a matter of fact all ungulates are susceptible to E.G. This includes both wild and domestic ungulates.
November 28, 2012
As a hunter, one’s approach at stalking prey certainly depends upon the characteristics of the sought after prey. For that matter, what a hunter does in the woods and what he or she pays attention to is dependent upon what other large predators might be skulking about seeking whom they may devour.
As an example, if a hunter was stalking grey wolves, there’s always the thought of what could happen if a wolf or a pack of wolves turned on the hunter. Therefore, the methods of the hunt will vary considerably from that of hunting a whitetail deer in forests where few, if any, other large man-eating predators roam.
But what if that whitetail deer, or elk, or moose, we discovered, had turned from being a vegan to a meat eater? Normally hunters sneak quietly through the hardwoods, the swamps and thickets, moving as little as possible and limited in making noise as can possibly be done. This is because the deer is easily spooked and will often be gone before the hunter is even aware they were there from the beginning. Would that tactic change if deer stalked man?
Don’t laugh. First of all, some deer do stalk people. I’ve had it happen to me several times, especially on snow. It isn’t that the deer was stalking me to kill me, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought, I believe it is done more out of curiosity, as well as a clever avoidance tactic; i.e. hey, hunter, turn around and look behind you once in awhile.
Deer are herbivores right? – Meaning they eat only plants. It seems that’s not exactly true.
If deer are interested in eating fresh market beef, how soon before those same deer will be learning how to effectively stalk man, not out of curiosity, but for want of a hot fleshy meal? Not soon I hope.
In the article linked to above, we learn that many herbivores do enjoy an occasional high-protein diet, mostly from leftovers from others kills, but some have been known to do their own killing for the meat.
I suggest looking behind you more than occasionally while stalking about the woods. You never know what hungry beast waits you in the brush.
March 27, 2012
One of the difficulties lazy readers have in finding facts comes from media-spawned political rhetoric and mythological hype from agenda-driven entities’ regurgitated propaganda sent to the media outlets, who, without questioning, publish it. Such is the case in an article found at Public News Service.
The article simply takes mostly tripe and propaganda put out by the Natural Resources Council (NRC) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and publishes it as though it were substantiated fact. It is unfortunate that, one, the NRC and NWF are still mired in agendas to promote man-made global warming, and they refuse to accept the truth about what it is that is effecting our climate. Second, that because of this cultist obsession with global warming, they seize on information about tick-infested moose and lie to readers that moose have ticks because of global warming.
At least two serious errors have occurred here. The first being that the news agency appears not to have questioned any of the propaganda put out by the NRC and NWF and second, the information given by the NRC and NWF is misleading, incomplete and agenda-drive dishonesty.
Not quite 2 months ago, I provided readers with tons of information about science-substantiated winter ticks and moose. I challenge all to read it. I’ll spare you the blow by blow errors and misleading information provided in the Public News Service piece and try to help readers understand about ticks and why we are seeing more and more dead moose in the woods of Maine.
While it may not be wrong to state that warm weather causes more ticks, in the context of the article cited, it is intentionally misleading. The study I am referencing says that what happens during the early fall when ticks make their way onto vegetation in preparation of hitching a ride on a moose, is the most determining factor on how many ticks survive and how much the moose is effected by the ticks. The study says that it is in September and October when ticks find their way to the vegetation where they ultimately wait for their hosts to appear. This happens to coincide with the annual moose rut. Let’s not also forget that these ticks use all ungulates, i.e. moose, elk, deer, etc.
However, if any one of three elements or a combination of all occurs, ticks finding their way onto moose will be lessened, sometimes substantially. The first are deep snows. In Maine, how often are their deep snows? While there are no given definitions to “deep snows” in the study, one could conclude that being the data indicates these ticks can be found from a couple inches to several feet above the ground, I presume a foot of snow or more might have an effect on the ticks. Again, how often does this happen?
A second event that effects ticks is “6 consecutive days in which the temperature does not exceed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.” When was the last time this happened in Maine during September, October and November?
And the third thing is windy weather. Strong and gusty winds will knock ticks off vegetation and more times than not are unable to reestablish themselves for that free ride. Consequently, the ticks die. How often does the wind blow in Maine? But, let me be honest. There could be little cold, no snow and no winds to interfere with the tick crop and we could have a banner year. Does that mean it’s all attributed to global warming? There could be little cold, no snow and windier than normal conditions leading to a minimal crop. Is this all attributed to global cooling?
From the point of finding their way onto moose, the ticks basically ride around staying warm enough to survive through winter. In late winter, around in March, the female ticks begin engorging themselves with blood from the moose. This irritates the moose causing them to rub, sometimes incessantly, in attempts to get rid of the ticks. The loss of energy, reduced periods of rest and loss of hair due to rubbing, all can contribute to a moose’s ability to tough out the rest of the winter. However, studies indicate the while ticks infestation contributes to ungulate death, it is not the main cause. Eventually the ticks are rubbed off and die and sometimes they survive. By spring, the ticks drop off the moose and the cycle begins again.
To create a blank statement that global warming causes more ticks to kill moose, simply is an incomplete and dishonest statement. An argument can be made that prolonged warming could attribute to an increase in ticks under certain conditions. However, I’m not sure that further studies exist to inform us as to how increased warming effects the entire ecosystem that includes the tick. Is it honest or intelligent to assume that warming is all good? Perhaps prolonged warming has detrimental effects on ticks that we have yet to discover.
Instead of dishonestly taking advantage of news reports of more dead moose being found in the woods and attributing it to global warming-caused tick infestations, why not take two minutes and examine stark and simple realities that can probably explain away much of what all the fuss is about.
It was but a mere 10 years ago that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was stating that the state’s moose population was around 29,000. Today, those estimates have risen dramatically and now may actually be approaching 100,000. With 3 – 4 times the number of moose ramming around the forests and fields, doesn’t it make sense that there are 3 – 4 times the number of moose roaming about the countryside in September and October picking up ticks. And doesn’t it stand to reason that with 3 – 4 times more moose carrying ticks, that more ticks survive to repeat the cycle? And finally, if there are 3 – 4 times the number of moose than there used to be ten years ago, wouldn’t the chances be pretty good we might be seeing 3 – 4 times the number of dead moose?