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

Downtown wall collapses, causes damage

At least two downtown businesses sustained damage Tuesday afternoon following the partial… Continue reading

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan set to kick off

Popular event kicks off in Kelowna with a sold out launch party

“It’s amazing how newspapers can solve problems”

Story leads to generous donation for Princeton woman…and there is a twist to the tale

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Community lends a hand after fire

Fundraiser to aid fire victim’s widow

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Most Read