A healthy bull moose with full dark fur. An increasing number of winter ticks are moving north from the U.S. and infesting the moose populations in southern Canada (siki commons)

Study finds life-threatening numbers of ticks on moose

Moose are an iconic animal of Canadian (and northern U.S) forests and they are big, with the males weighing 500 kg or more and growing huge impressive antlers.

But they are being threatened by something tiny. It’s a parasite known as the winter tick.

Slightly different and slightly bigger than other ticks, such as the black-legged tick, that can pose severe health hazards to humans including Lyme disease. Winter ticks affect mostly moose.

An engorged winter tick showing relative size (CBC News- U Laval study)

Scientists are now studying moose populations in Quebec and New Brunswick to determine how the moose change their behaviour when infested. They also are looking at the survival rate of ticks and their spread. The ticks are a bloodsucking parasite and though moose are big animals, literally tens of thousands of the parasites can seriously weaken the animals, reducing their survival.

A similar study in the U.S states of New Hampshire and Maine found up to 70 per cent calf mortality due to tick infestations literally in some cases sucking so much blood the animal dies.

A so-called “ghost moose’ with whitish skin showing where the dark fur has been rubbed off as the animal tries to rid itself of itching ticks This leads to health problems for the animal and exposes it to cold (N.H. Fish and Game Dept)

Climate change and ticks.

Scientists also note that climate change is allowing the winter tick (and other ticks) to expand further and further northward as shorter, milder winters and less snowfall fail to kill them off in large numbers.

As the ticks accumulate on the animal and irritate the skin, moose will try to scratch them off by rubbing hard against trees, but in doing so also often scrape off their own fur leaving them vulnerable to cold or causing open wounds prone to infection.

U Laval scientists pull back the fur on a sedated moose to show the high number of ticks. Scientist have found infestations of up to 70-80 thousand ticks on a single animal, They also say climate change means higher tick survival through winter and a range expanding northward. (CBC News)

The five year Canadian study, involved finding moose by helicopter then immobilizing them safely with a net fired from the aircraft. The number of ticks are counted on a patch of skin and estimated for the animal. A tracking collar is then attached that monitors the animals movements.  This determines behaviour comparisons between heavily infested moose with those having little infestation.

Lifecycle of winter tick (Forets, Faune, et Parcs Quebec)

The Quebec study by the University of Laval in collaboration with the University of New Brunswick also includes J.D. Irving Foresty. A representative said the trees they plant today will be harvested in 40 years, but by then the climate will have changed dramatically so they are interested in studies of animal behaviour in their forests which will change their own forest management practices.

Additional information-sources

Categories: Environment, International, Internet, Science and Technology
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet Netiquette guidelines.

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *