Moose Tick Survey Report Nears Completion
Prince George, B.C. – From January to the end of April, there was a call issued for folks to report on the condition of moose throughout the province. Specifically, it was to gather information on the impacts ticks have been having on the moose population.Mike Bridger, who is with the Natural Resource and Environmental Studies at UNBC, headed up the province wide survey. People were asked to go on line and describe the degree to which the animal had lost hair. The greater the hair loss, the more severe the tick infestation.
While the final report is still weeks away, he says preliminary data indicates the incidence of severe tick infestation on moose was highest in the Omineca region, which includes Prince George “In the Prince George region , that was the area where there were the most sightings of moose with severe hair loss.”
He says between January and April 31st, 64% of the moose observed had some degree of hair loss, and that percentage climbed during the last two months of the survey with 78% of all the moose sighted were observed to have some degree of hair loss.
What is not known is if this level of infestation is normal. This is the first time a study of this kind has been done so Bridger is hoping the study can be carried on, “To get a really good grasp on what’s going on, we need to continue this study over the course of several years, just to have some comparisons.”
He says a lot of the information came from people in urban areas, so the study may not paint an accurate picture of what is happening in the full region. In correlating the information, he tried to weed out double sightings of the same animal by checking location and time of sighting. “That’s one of the problems with the study” says Bridger.
“Overall, it seemed to be a positive program with a lot of good feedback ” says Bridger. He is hoping further studies, combined with keeping track of weather conditions, should lead to accurate forecasts for tick infestations. A mild winter will likely lead to more ticks in the following winter as the tick population can’t lay its eggs when there is lots of snow. “Given the conditions we had this past winter, I think next winter we will see a severe tick infestation.”