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NE Moose Population Decline Sparing Maine So Far

PHOTO: Maine’s moose population is staying healthy – at least compared to that of neighboring New Hampshire where a leading wildlife biologist is blaming climate change for bolstering the winter ticks that feed on moose
PHOTO: Maine’s moose population is staying healthy – at least compared to that of neighboring New Hampshire where a leading wildlife biologist is blaming climate change for bolstering the winter ticks that feed on moose
April 1, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's moose population is so far not affected by problems in neighboring New Hampshire, where the number of moose are declining, especially in the White Mountains and the central region. 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 said, by virtue of being in more northerly latitudes, Maine's moose are doing well, "although they have occasionally seen some dramatic changes in the weights of their cows, probably due to winter tick."

Maine biologists also said the logging industry creates a good environment for moose that depend on young trees for food. The state is actually considering raising the number of moose-hunting licenses in 2013.

Rines said recent dramatic declines in moose numbers in Minnesota and Nova Scotia are being eyed warily by New England biologists who, like many folks, treasure the iconic animal.

"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."

At least in the lower latitudes, global warming is affecting moose, Rines said.

"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.


Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME