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Tick infestation common in moose

August 15, 2016 12:50 P.M.

Roughly two thirds of the moose in B.C. show signs of a potentially deadly tick infestation.

More than 60 of moose in a provincewide study showed signs of hair loss associated with winter tick infestation, according to a report released Monday by provincial wildlife biologists. 

Last year, 50 percent of moose observed were infested with the ticks. The study ran from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2016, and included observations of more than 500 moose.

The higher infestation rate this year does not necessarily mean that more moose are carrying the tick, although it does suggest that ticks are a common problem. Biologists are entering the third year of an ongoing study and need to collect more data before they can get an accurate picture of winter tick prevalence.

There are between 120,000 to 200,000 moose in B.C.

The province launched a winter tick monitoring program last year to establish a baseline measure of the extent of the infestation. The study incorporates field observations from wildlife professionals, forestry and environmental consultants, members of First Nations communities and the general public. 

Winter ticks are an external parasite found on white-tailed deer, mule deer, bison and elk, although moose are the ticks’ preferred host. The ticks can lead to skin irritation and blood loss for moose and, in cases of severe infestation, lead to serious health issues and even death. 

Winter ticks pose no health risk to humans.

Sue McD says:
August 16, 2016 04:38pm

One moose can house 75,000 ticks
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