Scientists Worry That As Climate Rises, So Will New England Moose Deaths

Sep 30, 2019
Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

The devastating toll of ticks on New England’s moose herd has caused the region’s population to shrink, and experts worry it could get worse with climate change.

Winter ticks have killed thousands of moose in New England . Maine’s moose population is estimated to have fallen from 76,000 five years ago to between 60,000 and 70,000 today. New Hampshire’s numbers have reduced nearly 50 percent, to about 5,000 moose. We learn about the fate of Maine’s moose population and what wildlife managers plan to do to protect this charismatic animal.  We’ll also discuss the popularity of moose watching tours and best places to spot a moose in Maine.

This is part of Maine Calling’s yearlong focus on topics that reflect what is iconic in Maine.

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SKOWHEGAN, Maine - On Saturday, 2,500 permits to hunt moose will be awarded. The number of permits has been increased from last year's 2,080 permits. 90 percent of the 2500 permits up for grabs are reserved for Maine residents, with the remainder awarded to out of state applicants. In all, 54,000 people applied. 

In recent years, moose health has been affected by parasites such as winter ticks, which can keep calves from thriving, and ultimately increase mortality across the population.

PITTSFIELD, Maine - Maine police say they've been keeping an eye on a moose that's been roaming around a Pittsfield park.
Pittsfield Police Chief Peter Bickmore said Wednesday "we've got a Bullwinkle on the loose,'' and that police were dealing with the large animal for most of the morning.
The Bangor Daily News reports the moose was first spotted around 8 a.m. - taking the mound at Manson Park's baseball field.
A police officer shooed the moose away, but it later returned to wandering back and forth throughout the park for most of the morning.

COLUMBIA, Maine - Two Maine game wardens and two hunters have come to the aid of a moose that was trapped in a muddy spring.
WGME-TV reports two hunters were searching for deer antlers in a cedar swamp in Columbia last week when they discovered the moose. Authorities say the female moose was stuck up to her neck in the spring hole and couldn't move her legs.

CONCORD, N.H. - Crews in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, will be collaring moose soon as part of a yearly study to learn more about their health.
The states are working to learn how moose density and weather interact to boost tick-caused moose mortality and reduce moose birth rates.
Northern New Hampshire residents may be seeing a helicopter overhead soon as about 45 moose cows and calves are collared for the fourth year of the study in the state.

Moose Healthy in Maine Despite Struggles in Recent Years

May 16, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine - It was a good winter to be a moose in Maine.

Despite struggles in recent years, Maine's state animal had a high survival rate over the winter. State moose biologist Lee Kantar says state data show about half of moose calves studied in western Maine have survived this year.

That's much better than last year. Moose calves studied in northern Maine also did well, and survival rates were improved for adult moose.

Drought Was Tough on Farmers, But Good for Moose

Apr 11, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. - Last year's drought in New Hampshire was tough on farmers and towns. But it turns out to have been good for moose.
Preliminary numbers from a project that puts tracking collars on moose show that only one of the calves - the most vulnerable group - died from winter ticks this year. A year ago, nearly 75 percent of the calves tracked died.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine wildlife managers are almost finished taking comments from the public about a plan to again trim the number of moose hunting permits.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife wants to cut the number of moose permits to 2,080, which is 60 less than last year. The state gave out more than 2,800 permits in 2015.

The state is taking comments on the proposed cutback until Thursday. The permits will eventually be awarded via a lottery in June that typically attracts tens of thousands of applicants.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's moose hunt begins today, but with several hundred fewer permits issued. Nearly 49,000 hunters entered the lottery for 2,140 moose permits, 675 fewer than last year.

State moose biologist Lee Kantar says the state issued fewer permits this year because certain targets for the number of moose - such as three moose per square mile -- and the number of moose that can be killed to reach those targets, changes from year to year.

 KITTERY, Maine (AP) - Hundreds of moose hunting enthusiasts will come to Kittery in two weeks in the hopes of beating the odds that they will score a hunting permit.

CONCORD, N.H. - Biologists say a project to tag 45 New Hampshire moose with tracking collars has been completed.

Fish and Game moose biologist Kristine Rines says 36 moose calves and 9 cows were tagged last month.

The tagging is part of a six-year moose mortality study that began in 2014. Biologists in New Hampshire and Maine are teaming up to help determine why moose populations in the region are declining.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ About 45 moose cows and calves are being collared in the coming weeks during the third year of a six-year study of moose mortality and productivity in northern New Hampshire.

Moose Hunt Winding Down

Nov 7, 2015

 AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ The Maine moose hunt is ending in northern Maine.

ERROL, N.H. — An ongoing study of moose mortality shows the number of New Hampshire moose calves dying of tick infestation rose this past winter.

WMUR reports that 74 percent of moose calves wearing monitoring collars died this past winter, as opposed to 64 percent the first year of the study.

New Hampshire Fish and Game biologist Kristine Rines, who heads the moose project, says she's hoping this winter's lingering snow will help reduce the number of ticks.