A group of experts from the Vermont FW Department will conduct a three-year study to find out more about the moose population. The wildlife biologists aim to understand the effects of climate change on the state’s moose herds.
The department says that the moose population in the Northeast has been increasingly affected by climate change. The researchers are worried that early springs and warmer falls facilitate the increasing numbers of winter tick which can have a devastating effect on this species.
Based on the study findings, the team will come up with an efficient strategy to tackle this problem and to improve the overall health of the moose population. Winter tick is a widely-spread parasite and probably the main threat to the herds.
More precisely, thousands of insects can attach to a single specimen. Infected moose look emaciated because of blood loss. Also, in their attempt to get rid of the winter tick, they rub against massive trees, and so they lose their insulating fur.
That is why some animals die of hypothermia. The wildlife biologists will tag sixty wild moose by placing radio collars on them. As such, they will be able to monitor the animals and establish which are the primary environmental factors influencing the mortality rate.
The experts will capture the specimens using nets thrown from helicopters in order to reduce the stress on them. The wildlife biologists will visit the animals on a regular basis to record visual observations.
Besides winter tick, there are a few other potential threats to the moose population, such as brainworms, and predation from bears and coyotes. It is worth mentioning that the experts will also analyze the mortality and reproduction rates of this species.
This way, they will be able to better monitor calves and come up with efficient conservation strategies. According to Cedric Alexander, lead author of the study, the moose herds are affected by a wide range of threats, including habitat fragmentation and warmer temperatures.
He explains that the department’s conservation initiative needs a solid foundation of research in order to eliminate these threats and to facilitate the recovery of the moose population. There are roughly 2,200 moose in Vermont nowadays, compared to the 5,000 specimens recorded 15 years ago.