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Moose Population Decline Worries NH Biologist


Monday, April 1, 2013   

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire's moose population is declining, especially in the White Mountains and the central region, according the head of the state's Moose Project. Shorter and warmer winters, linked to global climate change, are being blamed.

In late winter, ticks feed on the blood supply of host moose. In April, they begin to fall off, and if there is snow on the ground this month, they will die. However, shorter winters have boosted the winter tick population, and that is killing off moose at an alarming rate, as well as lowering cow weights.

Biologist Kristine Rines says everyone loses, including hunters.

"Everybody wants to have moose on the landscape, and no one's saying, 'Oh, I don't care if they're disappearing. Shoot more!' Nobody's saying that."

Another cause of moose mortality is brain worms. Rines expects hunting permits to be lowered, as they have been over the last half-dozen years.

Dramatic declines in moose numbers in Minnesota and Nova Scotia are being eyed warily by New Hampshire biologists who, like many Granite Staters, treasure the iconic animals, Rines said.

"People love to watch them and people like to hunt them - and people like to eat them, she smiled. "People just like knowing they're here, and as long as we have enough moose to provide hunting opportunities, we'll do that."

Rines was named the state's first moose biologist in the 1980s. She has helped New Hampshire's moose management and research achieve international recognition.

"You know it's a balancing act, and there are parts of that act over which we have absolutely no control," she noted, "and one is the weather. So we'll just have to see how things sugar off. There's much that we do not know about what the future holds."

Rines' suggestion? Pray for snow.

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