Moose in early spring showing large area where winter hair has been rubbed away to remove winter ticks. These so-called 'ghost moose' can die from heavy infestation.

‘Citizen science’ tracks moose tick spread

Survey finds increase in 'ghost moose' that rub away hair to remove winter ticks, which can weaken and kill them

Sightings of ‘ghost moose’ have long been reported in the B.C. wilderness, and now a systematic effort to collect reports is showing an increase in winter tick infestation that drives moose to rub away their dark winter hair.

The second year of a B.C. government-led citizen reporting study collected more than 500 reports, mostly from northern B.C. Province-wide, 61 per cent of moose sightings reported visible hair loss, up from 50 per cent in the pilot project year of 2015.

Heavy tick infestation can be fatal to moose, causing them to lose much of their hair and take time away from feeding to groom or rub themselves during early spring when they are at their weakest.

As with mountain pine beetle and other bark beetles, winter tick populations rise with warmer conditions. Pregnant females have a higher survival rate because they aren’t dropping off into snow after engorging themselves on the host animal’s blood and leaving to lay eggs.

The last major infestation in the B.C. Interior was noted in 1999, after unusually warm conditions the previous year. Cold fall temperatures and early snow can also reduce ticks at their larval stage.

Based on 2016 snow data, the survey predicts increased tick severity in 2017 for the Skeena and Omineca regions.

The tick monitoring program is publicized through local newspapers and radio, outdoor magazines and distribution to conservation officers, wildlife biologists, hunters, trappers and the general public. Responses increased after the pilot year, but remained low in the Cariboo, Kootenay, Lower Mainland and Okanagan regions.

Winter ticks also affect whitetail and mule deer, elk and bison, but mainly moose. They are not a hazard for humans.

There are three subspecies in B.C., the large Alaskan Moose in the northwest, the Northwestern Moose across most of the province and the smaller Shiras Moose in the East Kootenay and extending into the U.S.

Moose populations are tracked and managed via hunting regulations and access restrictions.

 

Just Posted

20-bed emergency shelter to open in Hope in October

Supportive housing also planned for two lots on Old Hope Princeton Way, adjacent to the shelter

PHOTOS: Japanese-Canadians who built Highway 3 forever remembered with Mile 9 sign

A lesser-known part of B.C. history is the 1,700 Japanese-Canadian men who built highways in WWII

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

Hope daycare and preschool project delayed past ‘aggressive ’ September start-date

12 families are waiting for Swetexl, a collaboration between faith, First Nations and education organizations, to open

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

Fraser Valley horse trainer suing feed mill after death of five animals

Alicia Harper seeking $500,000 to $1 million in losses and damages from Hi-Pro Feeds

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Fraser Health to buy two private MRI clinics in Surrey, Abbotsford

New clinics will provide 2,000 more MRIs by fiscal year-end

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Most Read