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

Rockin’ Robin

Another sign spring has sprung

Blue River Health Centre closed March 25-26

Clinic will return to regular operations on March 27

Spring Break Skijor Day

More horsing around at Smokin True Ranch

Community of Vavenby: weekly news update

Please be aware of children near the roads when driving

Riverside Adventures finds new owner

Business sold to new owner Sam Charvet

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Most Read