Warming climate and winter ticks decimating moose populations – ‘There has absolutely been a tremendous decline’
Studies show that up to 100,000 ticks can be found on a single moose — enough for the animal to scratch off areas of fur and send it to a slow, unpleasant death by a thousand bites and exposure to the elements. The parasites leap onto moose in the autumn, burrow into their thick coats until they find skin and stay attached all winter, engorging themselves on blood.
When they fall off the moose in the spring, they die if they fall onto heavy April snowpack, but if the winters are short and the ticks fall on warm, bare ground, the females lay eggs and repeat the cycle. And that is where climate change comes in. As Maine’s winters have gotten warmer and shorter, snowpack melts earlier, and tick populations boom, becoming a much deadlier threat to moose.