MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has proposed a limited moose hunt in the northeastern corner of state this fall aimed at decreasing the harmful toll of winter ticks on the moose population.
Moose density in the state's Wildlife Management Unit E is far above one moose per square mile (2.5 kilometers), which is significantly higher than any other part of Vermont, Nick Fortin, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s biologist in charge of the moose project, said in a written statement last week.
“Moose densities greater than one per square mile support high numbers of winter ticks which negatively impact moose health and survival," he said.
The ticks infest moose and suck their blood, and sometimes tens of thousands are found on a single animal.
The department said it recently worked with University of Vermont researchers to study moose health and survival in that area. A total of 126 moose, including 36 cows and 90 calves, were fitted with GPS tracking collars. The results “showed that chronic high winter tick loads have caused the health of moose in that part of the state to be very poor,” the department said.
Survival rates of adult moose were good but birth rates were very low and less than half of calves survived their first winter, the department said.
“Research has shown that lower moose densities, like in the rest of Vermont, support relatively few winter ticks that do not impact moose populations,” Fortin said.
The department has proposed issuing 60 moose hunting permits and 40 anterless moose hunting permits for the area this fall. An estimated 51 to 66 moose would be taken or 5% of the more than 1,000 moose estimated to be living in the area, the department said.
No permits would be issued for other parts of Vermont.