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Maine moose population taking big hit from winter ticks

Maine moose population taking big hit from winter ticks


AND WE HAVE UNSETTLED WEATHER AHEAD. BUT TO GET TO COMING UP. TRACY: MAINE IS HOME TO THE LARGEST MOOSE POPULATION IN THE LOWER 48 WITH AN ESTIMATED 70,000 STATEWIDE. MAINTAINING THE POPULATION IS VITAL TO ENSURING HUNTING. BUT DEPENDING ON WHO YOU TALK TO, THERE IS CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE OF THESE LARGE MAJESTIC ANIMALS. KATIE THOMPSON HAS A SPECIAL REPORT. KATIE: TWO YEARS AGO WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS IN MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE PARTNERED UP TO STUDY THE MOOSE POPULATION IN BOTH STATES. THE MORTALITY RATE. THEY’RE PUTTING A LOT OF MONEY, TIME AND RESOURCES INTO THE STUDY. 4:00 A.M., AND WE ARE OFF INTO THE HILLS OF FRANKLIN COUNTY ALONGSIDE ROGER LAMBERT. BY SUNRISE, WE ARE ON FOOT. WE HEADED INTO THE MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN MAINE. MARSHY WETLANDS FILLED WITH SODIUM RICH VEGETATION. IT IS BREAKFAST TIME IN MOOSE COUNTRY. BINGO. THAT WAS WITHIN THE LAST TWO DAYS. KATIE: WE CAN SEE WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN SLEEPING AND WALKING. BUT WE CANNOT FIND THEM. THOUGH IT IS THE MOST A DIFFICULT TIME OF YEAR, THE INABILITY TO SPOT THE ANIMAL IS RELATIVELY NEW IN PARTS. WE ARE DOWN HALF THE MOOSE POPULATION. KATIE: ACCORDING TO LAMBERT, IT WAS 2010 WHEN HUNTERS IN FRANKLIN COUNTY AGAIN NOTICING A LARGE NUMBER OF DEAD MOOSE. WHAT THEY HAD IN COMMON? WINTER TICKS. TENS OF THOUSANDS ON EACH MOOSE. MORTALITY IS HUGE. KATIE: ACCORDING TO LAMBERT, IT DID NOT COME FROM PICKUP TRUCKS OR SCIENCE LABS. THE CRY WHEN OUT QUICK TO THE OUTDOOR COMMUNITY. THERE IS QUITE A BIT OF KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR, BUT THE TICKS SITUATION IS COMPLEX. KATIE: MEET LEE KANTAR, THE MOOSE MAN. HE IS IN CHARGE OF A FIVE-YEAR STUDY OF MORTALITY RATE IN MOOSE FROM WINTER TICKS. THE STUDY TRACKS 35 ADULTS AND 35 VSLGD — CALFS TO MONITOR WELL-BEING AS FAR NORTH AS JACKMAN. WE LOST 73% OF THE CABS — CALVES IN THE STUDY AREA. IF THAT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR, THAT IS A PROBLEM. KATIE: BUT HE SAID SURVEYS REVEALED THE NORTHERNMOST PART OF THE STATE CONTINUE TO BE HIGH DENSITY AREAS. THAT PART OF THE STUDY COULD REVEAL MORE ABOUT HOW CHANGES IN CLIMATE ARE RELATED. THERE ARE DIFFERENCES WITH SNOW DEPTH THAT AFFECT WINTER TICKS. KATIE: DESPITE THE RESEARCH, THERE ARE’S — THERE ARE SKEPTICS. SOME SPECULATING ABOUT AREAS OF FOREST THAT HAVE TRANSITIONED. WE ALL WANT A VIBRANT MOOSE POPULATION FOR THE GOOD OF THE ANIMAL. KATIE: THERE MAY BE MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS RIGHT NOW. BIOLOGISTS STRESS THAT IT WILL TAKE TIME. THE WHOLE STORY NEEDS TO PLAY OUT SCIENTIFICALLY OVER THE COURSE OF THE STUDY. KATIE: WE ARE A MONTHS AWAY FROM THE START OF HUNTING SEASON. THIS YEAR, MAINE MAY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PERMITS BY 10%.

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