Moose ticks studied

Residents are being asked to help document moose winter tick infestations by completing an online survey

Residents are being asked to help document moose winter tick infestations by completing and submitting an online survey before April 30.

The survey will help B.C.’s wildlife health staff monitor the number of moose affected with these ticks and the extent to which they affect moose  around the province.

The moose winter tick surveillance program monitors the number of animals with hair loss and the amount of hair loss on each animal to estimate  winter tick prevalence and distribution.

“Tick infestations can sometimes result in severe behavioural and physiological changes and directly  impact the survival rates of moose, especially young animals,” states a Ministry of Forests release.

“The survey’s findings will help to inform moose management in B.C.”

Winter ticks (dermacentor albipictus) goes through three life stages over the winter on one moose and there can be as many as tens of thousands on one animal.

As the ticks mature, they feed on the animal’s blood and can cause anaemia.

In late winter, the irritation from ticks causes moose to scratch and groom themselves excessively, resulting in hair loss and less time spent foraging.

The extent of hair loss on a moose can be observed easily from a distance and is a rough indicator of how many ticks are present.

Winter tick infestations are generally observed on moose from February to April.

Anyone interested in contributing to the surveillance program can obtain a copy of the survey online at www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/download/6AAE0D9D88A34A7EBD487DC4FED75E18 or by contacting Dustin Walsh at NRMooseTickSurvey@gov.bc.ca or 250-617-0725.