Wood tick on your sweater!
Last winter I pointed out anecdotal evidence that warming winters may have something to do with a crashing moose population in northern Minnesota. Moose have a range determined, "in part, by their fitness inside a certain band of seasonal temperatures. When these thermal bands shift upward, individual animals may migrate north and/or the overall moose population may decline. It is the nature of living things. Otherwise we'd have tapirs in Oklahoma and alligators in Maine." Also during the winter of 2010-11, moose and deer in Maine were found dead over large segments of their range, in part (apparently) due to the large burden of blood-sucking ticks carried by dead individuals. I'm talking about hundreds, perhaps thousands of ticks per individual and hundreds of the dead animals encountered by woodsmen, with no evidence of predation or starvation.
How bad is it?
Main taxidermists and butchers specializing in moose and deer report that employees wear Tyvek suits and apply tick repellent to protect themselves when handling the tick-infested animals. Big carnivores do not touch the carcasses. (I'm getting grossed out just thinking this while I write.)
As reported in the Sun Journal,
But what Mason and Hall are labeling as tick kills are dead moose still laden with so many ticks that predators won't touch them.
“That's our guess,” Hall, 32, said Wednesday afternoon.
He and a few friends said they found 50 dead moose calves and adult moose this year in the Jackman region while looking for horns and doing some spring fishing.
“Every single one that I had found and that the other guys had found, the snow was just starting to come off them and they were totally untouched, so it's obvious it's not a predator kill,” Hall said. “You could see ticks right on them.”
Even Republicans can't fool a woodsman for very long.
Outdoorsmen and businesses which serve their needs can see that something has changed, that warmer winters have made moose and deer more vulnerable to parasites. As quoted by the Sun Journal again:
“I think we need a winter without any snow and about minus 30 (degrees) for a month and a half, because that's the only way you're going to get rid of them,” said Sprague, a deer and moose meat processor and taxidermist who owns Trophies Unlimited.