To reduce the number of young moose that succumb to the ravages of winter ticks, which have become more abundant in northern New England due to shorter and warmer winters, combined with an increased density of moose in some areas, wildlife managers in Maine and Vermont are electing to reduce the overall moose population in certain “high tick” areas by increasing the number of the animals that can be taken by hunters. The idea is to reduce the overall density of the moose population, resulting in fewer moose to serve as hosts for winter ticks. This would in turn reduce the spread of ticks in select areas.
As is being done in Maine, Vermont wildlife officials are currently considering an extension of its October moose hunt in Essex County, where it’s estimated that roughly half of moose calves survive their first year due to tick-related mortality (the ticks can cause amenia in young moose or force them to rub off their protective coats in an effort to rid themselves of the troublesome parasites). Sever tick infestation has also been shown to affect the reproductive ability of female moose.
Vermont issued 100 moose permits last year, resulting in 62 moose being killed. The state’s moose population rose to a peak of 4,800 in 2005—a number that is unsustainable given the amount of moose habitat, say biologists.
VT Fish & Wildlife is currently collecting public feedback on the 2022 moose hunt proposal through May 14.