Moose Populations Are Decreasing Dramatically Thanks To Ticks

Moose Populations Are Decreasing Dramatically Thanks To Ticks

Ticks are pests to a great many of earth’s creatures, not just humans. If there is another animal who is as sick of ticks as humans are,it would be moose. For the past several years ticks have been a serious health threat to moose living in New England. This is also the same region where humans are at the greatest risk of contracting tick-borne diseases. More and more moose with hairless patches of skin are being spotted in the wild. These partly hairless moose are commonly called “ghost moose”. The loss of hair results from moose attempting to remove bothersome ticks from their bodies. When moose feel ticks embedded in their skin, they will try to rub the ticks off by scraping their bodies on nearby trees. Repeated scrapings eventually lead to hair loss in regions where ticks were actively sucking blood from moose. In addition to hair loss, moose populations are decreasing in response to tick-induced deaths. One study suggested that up to seventy percent of baby moose in the wild are being killed by ticks.

So why have moose populations just started to decrease in response to ticks? The answer to this question, according to experts, is global warming. More ticks are surviving winters due to rising global temperatures. Once tick season arrives, the amount of ticks in New England forests is staggeringly high. Around seventy five thousand ticks can fit onto one single adult moose. The ticks are becoming so numerous in New England that moose cannot avoid becoming covered in ticks. The massive tick populations that attach themselves to moose are believed to be a big part of the reason for the massive decline in moose populations. However, the decline in moose populations may not be due solely to ticks, but rather to a variety of factors that are still being studied.

Do you believe that ticks are mostly to blame for the recent decline in moose populations?



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