Moose were hunted almost to extinction in New England during the 1800s. Careful population management resulted in these majestic animals making a comeback. But now wildlife researchers are concerned that moose populations are at risk for another reason.

Moose photo

Shorter winters have upset the ecosystem’s delicate balance. With snow on the ground for fewer months, more deer are surviving the winter.

Rines: “Our deer herds have been increasing, bringing more brainworm, which does kill moose.”

That’s Kristine Rines, a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game. In addition to brainworm, the deer also carry winter ticks. A shorter winter, with less snow, means more ticks survive to breed and feed.

Deer have evolved behaviors to groom ticks off. But moose, which have never had to deal with ticks before, just ignore them.

Rines: “An individual moose can have over 100,000 ticks on them. So literally they suck these animals dry of blood. Especially the calves. They are dying of severe anemia.”

Shorter winters, more ticks posing risks for New England moose populations. Click To Tweet

As the climate continues to warm, Rines and other wildlife biologists are concerned about how the changes will impact moose and other wildlife in the region.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media/Drew Dickerson.
Photo: Copyright protected.

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Topics: Species & Ecosystems