August 19, 2019

Gorby Falling Down on the Job?

Earlier I posted some history from a book called “Away From it All” by Dorothy Boone Kidney. In that post it was about attacks on humans by bears and the history of the Lock Dam on Chamberlain Lake in the Allagash of Northern Maine.

The same friend who sent that information also sent me a short quip about gorbys, the Canada jay, and how one of the jay’s names is “moose bird” because the moose allows the gorby to land and ride on him or her and feed on ticks. We have recently learned that a combination of a harsh winter and an overabundance of winter ticks, a gorby’s delicacy, killed a lot of moose. Are there just too many moose with ticks that the gorby can’t keep up? Or not enough gorbys?



New Hampshire Tracks Moose

Warning! This video contains BS, unproven theories and oddly enough a bit of hope that New Hampshire moose biologists are approaching their jobs with the right attitude. I know. Sorry. I lost my mind for a minute.

New Hampshire is complaining about as much as a 40% drop in moose numbers “in some places” as it says in this PBS video, but doesn’t tell us the truth of what that means. As difficult as it was for the makers of this film to have to hear the New Hampshire biologist say their primary focus right now on moose mortality is the tick, it inevitably had to come back to global warming, even to the point of one man seeding signatures for a petition to urge the President to do something about carbon dioxide.

It appears obvious those in this video no little about the winter moose tick. While researchers can determine that ticks led to the death of moose, I believe they are just going on the assumption from what they have been fed for information that global warming is causing an increase in ticks. Warmer temperatures and snow, it says in this video plays into the hands of the ticks. But does it?

However, N.H. bios, it is said in the video, are going to allow science to determine what’s going on. Really? I hope so because it would be a first.

In the meantime, Maine is also collaring moose and tracking them in hopes of learning more about their moose, however, biologists there say the moose herd is doing well. In Minnesota, researchers are still saying they don’t know why moose are disappearing there and from last reports I have had they still refuse to consider a very large wolf population as a seriously contributing factor.

Oh, well. So long as these agencies keep getting money to research and never find solutions that would end the need for research, what else are we expecting for an outcome?


Blaming Global Warming, Vermont Cuts Moose Permits 70% Below 2008 Levels

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont regulators want to cut the number of moose hunting permits by 20 percent because the herd is below its target population.

The state is planning to issue 285 firearm licenses for the fall moose hunt, 70 fewer than last year and more than 70 percent below the peak number issued in 2008.<<<Read More>>>


Maine Moose Drool

MooseDrool290There is good news coming out of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), or at least I’ll take a different road this time, with a positive approach and say that a program by MDIFW to collar moose and study what causes mortality should be a good thing. If Lee Kantar can keep the brain dead “it’s-got-to-be-global-warming”, unscientific, ambulance chasers out of his office, I have a degree of confidence he can come up with answers. What the actual questions are, I’m not sure. But, by reading some of the “moose drool” (the term use is so fitting), one might be under the impression that Maine’s moose are all dead and/or dying because Minnesota, Montana and New Hampshire say they have a moose population in decline problem.

I find it odd that in Minnesota, for instance, officials there seem to have made a conclusion, at least a decade ago, that the moose were disappearing. Without lifting a single finger to determine, scientifically – no, not the new-science, outcome-based, pseudo-science speculation garbage lazy, mindless people love to swallow up and jump on the “True Believer” bandwagon – that it was a warming planet that was the root cause of a disappearing moose herd.

New Hampshire is trying a bit of a different approach. They are willing to admit that they think their moose population is shrinking but they think it is caused by the winter tick. Fear not, though. The reason the winter tick, according to their drivel, is because of global warming.

Lee Kantar must carry out his experiments with a real scientific approach, i.e. he is actually looking for THE answer not AN answer that quietly fits into a sky-is-falling narrative promoted by the Algorites (Al Gore’s global warming cultists).

However, his task will be extremely difficult because there may not exist anyone willing to take that approach, i.e. the real scientific one. If that’s not scary enough, Mr. Kantar might find I’m his only friend.

Even some of my colleagues in the outdoor writing business are getting caught up in winter ticks and global warming when it comes to discussions about Maine’s moose. V. Paul Reynolds, typically one who recognizes predation and places it quite accurately in moose and deer discussions, penned an article recently about the need to keep a close eye on Maine moose population, and yet not once mentioned or even hinted that predators should be considered. He was willing to write about the winter ticks. In fairness, the crux of the article dealt with MDIFW’s new program of collaring and studying moose mortality.

However, winter ticks were brought into the equation when Reynolds asked Kantar about ticks and Maine’s moose. Kantar was skeptical about how severely winter ticks were affecting the moose but hopes his study might answer some questions. This was exciting. Kantar didn’t seem to reveal he had made up his mind and intended to use the study to find answers; THE or AN, we’ll have to wait and see.

George Smith, in attempting to write something about moose populations and hunting permits, winter ticks and global warming, now seems relegated to hauling in the assistance of the Algorites and the National Wildlife Federation(NWF), (basically anti hunting and anti human) who still insist they are going to use man-caused global warming to raise money for their non scientific causes, in order to help him substantiate his claim that we’re all going to die…..right after the moose do.

Smith says because New Hampshire’s moose are declining and the NWF says warming is the culprit, along with New Hampshire’s claim that it’s the winter ticks due to global warming, Maine’s moose will also disappear.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone actually asked the right questions and that Lee Kantar found THE answer…….if there is a question?

Consider a few things, if you can. With the immersion into moose drool that just seems to be oozing everywhere these days, non thinking leaves someone subjected to talking points, the majority of which have never been proven but that doesn’t stop the echo chambers from repeating it.

First consider that there are no firm answers to most questions about winter ticks. Theories abound and it is irresponsible as hell when people, and that includes fish and game officials, spend money and make major wildlife management plans based on speculative assumptions, i.e. global warming and winter ticks, i.e, abundant moose drool.

Second, we are being told that global warming is causing an increase in winter ticks which are killing moose. And yet how much of the garbage that is being spread has been proven? None. Again, speculation and assumptions. It’s part of Algorism (belief in Al Gore’s melting ice caps mythology). It’s the lazy person’s explanation for everything. Dang those ticks anyway!

Even information presented in the two articles I have linked to above, is unproven and some of it just plain doesn’t make any sense if you actually take some time to study and research about winter ticks.

It is claimed that a warming planet is what is behind what appears to be, or at least what the media wants us to believe, an increase in winter ticks and those ticks are killing moose. Repeatedly we are told that what is needed are a couple of good old snowy and cold winters to kill off the winter ticks. Nobody, evidently bothers to check. Sounds good, so I guess I’ll pass that on.

If you were to look at the life cycle of the winter tick, then perhaps you could ask some questions – like what really interrupts a tick’s life cycle – and understand that it’s not quite so cut and dry as to what will kill a winter tick, that is, enough to reduce the winter tick infestation and salvage a few more moose.

Many people have become so obsessed with global warming being the cause and effect of everything, the simple concept that too many of a species is often “self-regulated” by a reduction of numbers from disease. Simple math should tell us that the more moose that exist, the more chances tick larvae will find a winter host and survive and reproduce. But that seems to be absent from the conversation.

Maine recently announced there were at least 75,000 moose, up from the official previous count of around 30,000. So, at least double the moose and potentially double the ticks. But, it didn’t happen overnight.

Climate change does effect our ecosystems. They have since the beginning of time. Real science can give us some answers. Unproven suppositions and perpetuation of myths only achieves to further complicate an already complicated process.

Perhaps we will discover that winter ticks are the only thing negatively affecting Maine’s moose….or not. Perhaps we are in a natural cycle of climate that does offer the expansion of winter tick infestation….or not. Maybe what is happening has happened hundreds of times before……or not.

If Lee Kantar is a real scientist, with a clear, unbiased and unaffected from outside pressures kind of guy, with the objective to come up with answers that are true and not predetermined, valuable information can be obtained for the benefit of all. God knows it’s about time.

By-pass the moose drool. It might be entertaining to read but the onus is and always has been on the reader to seek the truth. By doing so, things really do seem to make a lot more sense. Try it. You might like it.


Moose Populations Shrinking – No Talk of Predators

The lame mantra continues! Moose populations in northern New England seem to be shrinking and at least one excuse for this appears to be the presence of those dastardly winter ticks or moose ticks more commonly called. But as usual, only half the story is being told and inaccurate information is being passed around about climate and the ticks.

I have provided information in the past about winter ticks, i.e. how they attach to moose, survival rates, what kind of weather conditions are good and bad for ticks, etc. And yet, the so-called professionals fail in telling a more accurate story and also a complete story.

Experts say ticks are thriving because of warmer winters, yet no data has been provided to support the claim that northern New England is experiencing warmer winters. In addition, it appears incorrectly stated that colder weather kills winter ticks. While few studies have been conducted about winter ticks and moose, one study conducted by William M. Samuel and Dwight A. Welch, “Winter Ticks on Moose and Other Ungulates: Factors Influencing Their Population Size”, says that in order to kill winter ticks during the winter there needs to be 6 consecutive days where the outdoor temperature does not exceed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the latest AP story found in the Boston Globe, reporters state that ticks become less of a problem when there exists long, cold winters. Long and cold winters are a problem to a moose but has really little effect on the ticks, when you are talking about each adult moose carrying up to 150,000 ticks.

No, the goal here is to promote further the environmentalists’ con job of global warming as being the cause of moose population declines. In the article linked to, there is no mention of what the “other” factors are that “might” be influencing a shrinking moose herd. In particular, there is no mention of predators. It’s always about global warming.

The real detriment to this kind of shallow, ignorant thinking is that if there exists a problem, authorities will NEVER learn the real reasons for species decline.

What is good about all of this is the fact that somebody is now paying attention, as outdoorsmen have for a few years now been making statements about the condition of moose and their shrinking populations. Are ticks a problem in this? Of course, but if biologists are honestly concerned about what is really going on, it’s time they consider all factors to the equation and not just an inaccurate belief that warm winters are causing more ticks.

In Minnesota a similar problem exists with declining moose populations. Scientists have been trying to figure out what has caused the moose population to all but disappear over the past decade or so and in all this time have not considered depredation by wolves and other predators and only seem to be focusing on global warming.

Until we have some honest and thorough scientific investigation into these problems, don’t expect any changes to occur other than what is happening now – hunters are having their moose hunting opportunities cut back.


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