Moose calves die in New Hampshire as ticks feed on them during short winters

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New Hampshire moose calves die as ticks feed on them during short winters

The fight between moose and ticks in New Hampshire has become a serious issue as almost 75% of 36 moose calves, which were part of a New Hampshire project, have died due to tick attack. Winter ticks are killers that breed in shorter and milder winters. Therefore, if shorter winters continue in future, moose death is inevitable.

During short winters, ticks latch onto moose and feed on them. A moose offer feeding ground to up to 75,000 ticks on its body. The moose become week when spring comes and they starve to death. When their host dies, ticks look for another host to feed on. The data collected through project revealed that this year is the second to have a high mortality rate for moose calves.

According to moose biologist Kristine Rines, the lower number of moose also means less density of ticks as they rely on these calves’ population to survive. The reducing population of moose somehow benefits them. However, the biologists are not aware about when their numbers become proportionate.

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“The winter tick is on the moose all winter up until right now when moose are molting and shedding their winter coat and so the three life stages, larvae, nymph and adult are all operating at the moose, taking blood meals on those three occasions”, said Maine's moose biologist Lee Kantar.

The researchers employed net guns and tranquilizer darts to capture and collar the northern New Hampshire moose for examining as a part of the study. They also collected their blood and other samples in order assess their health status.

Those collared animals that are still alive will be monitored as long as the collars keep transmitting. When these moose will die, the researchers will get special signal alerts with the help of which they get to the location as early as possible.

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