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New Hampshire moose have high mortality rate due to ticks

Winter tick
Winter tick
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The moose population in New Hampshire is on the decline due to the devastating effects of winter ticks, according to the Concord Monitor. The blood-sucking arachnids have raised the mortality rate and taken the lives of 64 percent of calves and five percent of adults tagged by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department just this past winter alone.

A moose with hundreds of winter ticks.
Cynthia Kashivakura /

One moose can become covered in 120,000 to 160,000 ticks, which can effectively drain the animal of all its blood. Moose that are inflicted with a large amount of ticks often look white, thin and sport a patchy coat. Unlike deer, moose do not groom the ticks off. They rub their bodies against trees trying to dislodge them, thus rubbing off their fur.

The winter tick is most active in the winter, feeding off the host for its entire life-cycle. They lie in wait, like most ticks, for their host to walk by, but unlike other types of ticks, the winter tick waits in large groups.

Researchers in New Hampshire have studied the moose over years to track their behavior. Studies have shown a decline in the state's moose population since 1998, dropping from 7,000 to 4,000.

Because the moose population is fast declining, hunting permits are also declining. If the numbers continue to drop, hunting moose will cease.

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