One of B.C.’s smallest creatures is posing serious problems for one of the largest.
The B.C. government on Monday released the results of a province-wide study showing that more than 60 per cent of moose showed signs of hair loss associated with a potentially deadly tick infestation.
The study ran from Jan. 1 to Apr. 30, 2016, and included observations of more than 500 moose. Last year, 50 per cent of moose observed were infested with winter ticks.
The province launched its winter tick monitoring program in 2015 to establish a baseline measure of the extent of infestations. The ongoing study incorporates field observations from wildlife professionals, forestry and environmental consultants, members of First Nations communities and the general public.
Biologists are entering the third year of their study and need to collect more data before they can get an accurate picture of winter tick prevalence.
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, even death.
Winter ticks pose no health risk to humans. There are an estimated 120,000 to 200,000 moose in B.C.
Source: Vancouver Sun