Winter Ticks Are Slowly Murdering Maine’s Moose Population
A new study shows that winter ticks are thriving due a general warmth in Maine, which is leaving moose defenseless against the terrorizing parasite.
When people think of Maine, typically two things come to mind, lobster and moose. Tourists from around the world come to Vacationland to savor our lobster and to have a chance at spotting a moose. But if things don't change, and change quickly, those moose sightings may disappear forever.
According to the Boston Globe, winter ticks are being blamed for wiping out close to 70% of Maine and New Hampshire's moose calves. The shortening winters in the northeast are being blamed for the proliferation of the ticks, who thrive under those conditions. And what they're doing to the moose calves is both sickening and saddening.
"They're literally being drained of their blood", Pete Pekins of the Natural Resource Department at UNH told the Boston Globe. the female of this species of ticks can balloon up the size of a grape and then engorge themselves in the moose calves. The ticks attach themselves by the tens of thousands to the moose and eventually it just becomes too much, especially for the calves, and they literally die a slow and painful death.
Pekins and his fellow investigators concluded that it won't be long for many of the moose population in the Northeast begin migrating north, where it still remains cold enough with longer winters to avoid the horrific effects of the predatory ticks. Those who don't migrate, many forego reproducing all together.
Much of the study took place in Jackman and Greenville, where moose calves have been dropping dead at an alarming rate. Despite the worrisome numbers, researches are ready to warn that there will be a complete wipeout of the species, but they do say it's time to pay closer attention.
For a more in-depth look at the study, click here courtesy of the Boston Globe.