Ongoing study tracks 19 additional moose using GPS collars
By Mike Lynch
Researchers collared 19 more New York moose with GPS units in January as part of an ongoing study to learn more about the younger segment of the animal’s population.
The collars provide researchers with location data, movements, and activity patterns including where young moose are going after leaving their family unit.
In addition, the collars send out an alert to researchers when the animal has died. Once that happens, researchers go into the field to investigate the cause of death.
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Not much is known about moose calf dispersal or what is killing them.
Wildlife biologists are looking to see if parasites are a factor. These parasites, including winter ticks, brain worm, and giant liver fluke, and their associated diseases have increasingly become a management concern in the Northeast.
“The opportunity to capture and sample live moose provides us with a ton of valuable information about moose health,” said Krysten Schuler, wildlife disease ecologist and director of the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. “Unfortunately, we are seeing more evidence of parasites, like winter ticks and liver flukes, on the young moose, but this study allows us to identify management options for these problems.”
The research is part of a multiphase project that goes back to at least 2015 and has looked at factors influencing reproductive and survival rates of adults, availability of moose habitat and population estimates. The information gathered will be used to guide the state’s moose management plan.
RELATED: Northern NY’s moose population is flat. Scientists want to know why
This is the second year the state Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cornell University, and Native Range Capture Services have studied moose calves in the northern Adirondacks. The most recently collared moose were captured in Franklin County.
Last year, 14 were fitted with GPS collars. So far, six have died. Three succumbed to injuries, two had liver fluke infections, and the last one has yet to be recovered for necropsy.
The DEC’s most recent population estimate for moose is 700 animals. One of the questions this study is hoping to answer is why the population has not grown into the thousands, like populations in Vermont and New Hampshire.
“There are multiple stressors in New York that might be limiting moose population growth,” said Angela Fuller, Cornell University professor and U.S. Geological Survey New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research unit leader.
“Our research team includes wildlife and disease ecologists and wildlife managers, working closely to better understand the role that parasites might be playing in limiting moose populations. The recent moose collaring effort will allow us to estimate calf survival and better understand moose health,” Fuller said.
This year’s research also included sampling white-tailed deer pellets and water sources to detect and better understand the prevalence and distribution of brain worm and giant liver fluke across the landscape.
Larvae from these parasites are found in deer scat, where they are picked up by snails and then incidentally consumed by moose as they forage on plants. Trail cameras were deployed in the fall of 2021 to determine range overlap between deer and moose and to monitor hair loss on moose infested with winter ticks.
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It’s not that difficult to figure out why moose population is flat. ADKs has an older growth forest (per Forest Preserve rules) that prohibit logging. Moose need younger growth for browsing as they have in New England states, especially Maine!
Scott Seeley says
Tiggly Poo says
There’s plenty of logging in the Adirondacks. I live there and the logging trucks are cruising past non-stop day in and day out. The most moose meanwhile are in the regions which are most protected, although they range a bit more in the winter.
The moose aren’t starving to death. They are being killed by winter ticks. Please edumicate yourself!
I don’t think so, from the story..
“Last year, 14 were fitted with GPS collars. So far, six have died. Three succumbed to injuries, two had liver fluke infections, and the last one has yet to be recovered for necropsy.”
No winter ticks on any of the dead moose.
Tim & Jeneen Winegard says
I completely agree with you. The whole idea of forever wild is destroying the lands. Select cutting of our forests are the only way to keep wildlife sustainable and at the same time keep our forests healthy. The Adirondacks are beautiful but if we don’t manage our forests we stand to loose so much.
Nonsense. Were there no healthy forests before the invention of the axe and chainsaw? Your idea of a “managed” forest containing only the warm and fuzzy animals we can shoot is abhorrent to Nature. Nature doesn’t require us to manage it. It requires us to respect it.
Scott Seeley says
There were healthy forest before humans! Fire was the axe and saw of its time! We have suppressed fire so much that nothing is happening! Just an old growth forest that canopy blocks out any or all sunlight! Beneath these trees is a dead zone! And before anyone argues. I would take a walk in the forest and find some storm damage. A few big trees blown down. And tell me what you see? In a year or two you will find new growth and animal tracks etc.
Derek W Averell says
Glenn is 100% spot on. Also, how can we combat freaking Ticks ?
Sounds like industry is trying to influence this conversation. You’re telling us that humans are more important than nature for maintaining healthy ecosystems lol?? How did nature survive for millions of years without humans?? Humans have destroyed practically every forest on the planet and pushed most species to the brink of extinction directly and indirectly. The world would be a much healthier place without humans.
Barbara Poppell says
Steve, you are stating what this Old Timer has said for years!! Humans have upset the balance of nature to the point of no return! Instead of people arguing, they need to get out in the forests and observe!! I have for more than 80 years.
Scott Seeley says
Forests were managed before humans with wild fires and storm damage. Fires were frequent enough to just burn the understory. Humans have interrupted this event by suppressing fire. Well with that happening the forest understood is a dead zone with bigger canopy that suppresses new growth. Like our western counter parts! When you suppress fire/timber management you get big out of control fires! So getting back to the article…. timber management or prescribed fire would greatly help the forest and animal populations in it.
Charles Bullard says
The animals and trees were created FOR man, man is supposed to dress and keep it, use it but don’t abuse it, over harvesting of anything will remove it from our use. Burning fields and brush will destroy the bad pests like ticks and such, it also promotes native plants to grow instead of invasive plants. Ticks are a huge problem for man and animal.
J Burns says
Is is possible that since they are tagging calves, the mother is abandoning them and they cannot survive on their own? Forest (non)management could also be a factor. Managed logging benefits everyone, including animals.
Chuck Trudeau says
Controlled burns White Mountains National parks. Maine controlled logging thousands of square miles. This not only benefits the land, the economy, recreation, the human spirit, but the animals that live there. Go visit these areas, see for yourself. Then come back to New York State to open this state back up to nature instead of suffocating it with rules and regulations of the Adirondack Parks Commission which allows the rich to do what they want for the purpose of making more money from the land.
John M. Glowa, Sr. says
Sure. Go to Maine and see the widespread destruction of the forests. I’ll gladly give you directions. Makes it easy to kill moose standing in a clearcut. You don’t have to work for them that way.
The native Americans knew more about benefitting the environment than some of the naysayers here. They used judiciously placed burns of the grasses and woodlands to regenerate new plant growth- which benefits the plants, animals and people who use these areas. Sad to see the uneducated on this topic…………..
Lillian Antoci says
Maybe we should study and compare Maine moose management and see why their moose are thriving much better than our moose. We need to take action now to prevent a further decrease in population. Is there any kind of preventive medication that can be given to the young moose when tagged to prevent these diseases? A vaccine of some sort?
We are also on the southern tip of their range. Sadly with the climate modeling for the Adirondacks for the next 100 years, I don’t believe things will improve. Enjoy the moose while we have them. The future is grim for moose in ADK.
John M. Glowa, Sr. says
Maine moose are not thriving. The population is crashing, moose range is shrinking, and the fish and wildlife department wants to kill more moose while thousands of calves are dying and thousands more adults are being killed annually by hunters. Their goal is to decrease moose density to see if it will decrease the prevalence of winter ticks. Of course, New York has a low moose density and still has problems with winter tick mortality. Maine’s moose “management” program is a joke driven by hunting-not by science. What can be done in New York is to capture as many moose calves as possible during the winter and remove the winter ticks. Compare the survival rate of those with the ticks removed and those without the ticks removed. This is labor intensive, but it may be the only way to save New York’s moose.
Global warming has changed the winters to much warmer weather, less snow and almost no winter snow build-up. the ticks dont get frozen to death like they used to. Growing up in Newcomb it was pretty rare to see a tick on me/dog/cat/horse/cow/pig or in game we harvested for food. But now ticks are just everywhere, go out for a hike in a meadow and sometimes we get 20-30 ticks on our clothing when we check before going home. All the pets need flea and tick collars. Every deer and bear harvested now is absoutely covered in bloated ticks. Just covered easily 100’s to 1,000’s of big bloated ticks. I can’t imagine how much blood, infection, deseases and stress this adds to the animals. It has become a new ritual to immediately rip the hide off of game, bag and freeze for a few weeks before cleaning hide.
But what does 1,000’s of 1/4″ to 3/8″ sized ticks covering an animal do to them? it cant be good.
Going from basically rare to see tick to overwhelming amounts in 40 years, how do moose,deer, bears ect get weakened by this amount of blood sucking, desease vectoring hords stress and help reduce winter survival rate??
Is there maybe a bacterial or viral or fungal way of helping to lower ticks populations?
Michael Smith says
You are not seeing 100’s to 1,000’s ticks on a deer in Newcomb. I imagine what you are seeing are deer keds, a parasitic fly that sheds its wings as it burrows into the deer hide. They do resemble ticks and are still gross