I haven’t had many moose sightings this summer. Apparently, I’m not the only one missing the moose. According to NH Fish & Game officials, New Hampshire’s moose population is declining at a rapid rate – and Fish & Game officials don’t know why.
New Hampshire’s Executive Council recently approved spending $700,000 to study the problem, which will include moose collaring and tracking by GPS.
Glenn Normandeau, executive director of the Fish & Game Department, estimates that the state’s moose population is currently around 4,500, which he considers a low number. A Fish & Game biologist, Ted Walski, claims that moose sightings are down 20 to 30 percent in recent years.
Moose can live 20 years, but the average life span is 10 to 12 years. Moose mortality can be caused by a number of things, including predators like the black bear and coyotes that prey on moose calves under the age of nine weeks. Moose are also susceptible to brainworm, a tiny parasite that is passed from deer to moose via snails, which moose ingest while feeding. Moose also die from severe infestations of winter ticks, which irritate the moose causing it to scratch and lose large amounts of hair, leading to secondary infections and hypothermia. Humans cause a number of moose deaths. Each year as many as 250 moose die in collisions with vehicles on New Hampshire roads.
The four-year project will be primarily financed by federal funds and will involve helicopters with net-guns and wildlife biologists who will capture and radio-collar cow and calf moose and then use GPS technology to track their movements.