New data about the moose population in New Hampshire reveals that 75 percent of calves died of ticks this year so far.
Moose population is in deep trouble due to blood-sucking ticks. According to New Hampshire project, tracking collars were attached to at least 36 moose calves and nearly 75 percent of them died of ticks, creating a dreadful situation for the moose population.
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Moose were once widespread across Northern America but their population has declined dramatically over the past two decades. An array of factors contributed to their decline including illegal hunting, global warming and invasion of warmer weather parasites like winter ticks to which moose have not developed a natural defense.
To determine why moose populations are exactly declining, biologists from New Hampshire and Maine started tagging project in 2014. The project will run through year 2020. Last year 20 of 27 tagged moose had died in New Hampshire while in 2014 13 of 22 were found dead. It turned out that ticks are the top killer of this large, long-headed mammal. Ticks leaves moose weakened from blood loss and can lead to the death of many of those.
“It doesn’t bode well for moose in the long term if we continue to have these short winters.” Moose biologist Kristine Rines told Portland Press Herald.
Moose typically inhabit boreal and broadleaf forests in temperate climates of Northern Hemisphere. Their population is decreasing all across United States from New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine to Minnesota and Michigan. In New Hampshire alone, the moose population has dropped from an estimated 7,500 moose to just 4000 in the last decade.
For the tagging study, researchers used net guns and tranquilizer darts to sedate the animal and to put the collar around their neck. Blood samples were also collected to determine the health of the animal.
Collars that are attached to moose work in a special way. They keep tracking the animal until it is alive and send a special signal once the animal is dead so the researchers can reach to the spot as soon as possible and examine the body of the animal.
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Vermont moose biologist Cedric Alexander said. “We pay very close attention. We’re very interested and alarmed when we see that kind of mortality in a collard animal study next door.”