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Maine, NH Team Up to Track Moose Survival Rates

Maine and New Hampshire are working together, taking biological samples and using GPS tracking collars to study the survival rate of moose in both states. (Ashley Malinowski)
Maine and New Hampshire are working together, taking biological samples and using GPS tracking collars to study the survival rate of moose in both states. (Ashley Malinowski)
February 25, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine – Shorter winters are blamed for driving up the local tick and parasite population, which can be fatal to moose, and now Maine is teaming up with New Hampshire to study survival rates for moose in both states.

Lee Kantar, state moose biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says the two states have set up three study areas where they are tracking moose using GPS collars.

"The two states together have more than 200 moose with collars on them,” he explains. “And we're going to be tracking, assessing and analyzing for at least the next five years and that's probably the largest study in North America."

Kantar says the study will track the survival rates for both adult cow and calf moose in both states. He says researchers will study factors that affect moose survival and reproductive rates, including the impact of winter ticks on moose.

Kantar says it can be especially difficult for pregnant female moose that have ticks on them through March and April and are trying to stay healthy until calving season in May.

"There's a big part of this project that we are seeing is that we have fairly low reproduction in our moose compared to what it looked like back in the 80s,” he states. “And we're trying to figure out is part of that due to the effects of winter ticks? "

Kantar says the lack of snow in Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire is driving up the number of moose that are infected with ticks this winter. He says researchers will be looking at the moose survival rates in those areas, and in Northern Maine.

"We're hoping that by having these three different geographically distinct areas that there's differences among these three areas,” he explains. “You know, even right now in Northern Maine we've still got snow up there, but it's been a crazy winter for everybody."


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME