Deer, moose management public hearing

The high number of moose in the northeastern corner of Vermont has stimulated a dramatic increase in winter ticks, causing moose health to severely decline. As many as 90,000 winter ticks have been found on one moose. More than half of moose calves have died in recent winters due to blood loss caused by the winter ticks. VTF&W explains that reducing the number of hosts (moose) will reduce the number of parasitic ticks and improve moose health.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board will hold public hearings on deer and moose management for 2022 on March 21, 23, 24, and 29.

The hearings will include results of Vermont’s 2021 deer seasons and prospects for deer hunting next fall as well as an opportunity for people to provide their observations and opinions about the current status of the deer herd.

The Fish and Wildlife Department’s 2022 Moose Harvest Recommendation(link is external) can be seen by going to the “Public Hearings Schedule”(link is external) on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s home page(link is external).

The hearings will also include a review of the proposed 2022 moose hunting seasons and an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the number of moose permits recommended for 2022.

The three in-person hearings will begin at 6:30 p.m. at these locations:

March 21 – Spaulding High School, 155 Ayers St, Barre, VT 05641

March 23 – Kehoe Conservation Camp, 636 Point of Pines Rd, Castleton, VT 05735

March 24 — Lake Region High School, 317 Lake Region Rd, Orleans, VT 05860

The hearing on March 29 will be online. To access the meeting, click this direct link: follow this hyperlink to access the Microsoft Teams meeting.(link is external)

The link can also be accessed, on the day of hearing, through the Upcoming Events calendar on the department’s Homepage (vtfishandwildlife.com(link is external)). People using the mobile version (smart phone) will need to scroll to the bottom of the page to locate the calendar.

Or call in (audio only)

+1 802-828-7667,904108179# United States, Montpelier

Phone Conference ID: 904 108 179#

For more information and to join the online hearing, go to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com(link is external) and click on the “Public Hearings Schedule”(link is external) on the home page.

In addition to the public hearings, anyone can leave a comment on the proposals with a telephone message by calling 802-828-7498 or by emailing ANR.FWPublicComment@vermont.gov(link sends e-mail). Comments on moose must be received by March 31 and for deer by May 14.

Moose Hunting permits for NEK – The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has proposed issuing 100 moose hunting permits in Vermont’s Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) E in the northeastern corner of the state in order to reduce the impact of winter ticks on the moose population. The proposal was accepted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board at its February 16 meeting.

“Department staff, including moose project lead biologist Nick Fortin and biometrician Dr. Katherina Gieder, brought incredible scientific expertise to this recommendation,” said Commissioner of Fish and Wildlife Christopher Herrick.  “The proposal our board vetted and approved was informed by years of field research and sophisticated statistical analyses that have been featured in peer reviewed publications alongside results from sister efforts in Maine and New Hampshire.”

The goal of the department’s 2022 moose harvest recommendation is to improve the health of moose in WMU-E by reducing the number of moose and thereby reducing the abundance and impact of winter ticks. 

“Moose density in WMU E is still more than one moose per square mile, significantly higher than any other part of the state,” said Nick Fortin, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s moose project leader.  “Moose densities greater than one per square mile support high numbers of winter ticks which negatively impact moose health and survival.” 

The Fish and Wildlife Department partnered with University of Vermont researchers to conduct a study of moose health and survival in WMU E.  The results of this study, in which 126 moose (36 cows, 90 calves) were fitted with GPS tracking collars, clearly showed that chronic high winter tick loads have caused the health of moose in that part of the state to be very poor.  Survival of adult moose remained relatively good, but birth rates were very low and less than half of the calves survived their first winter.

“Research has shown that lower moose densities in the rest of Vermont support relatively few winter ticks that do not impact moose populations,” said Fortin.  “Reducing moose density decreases the number of available hosts which in turn decreases the number of winter ticks on the landscape.”

The department would issue 60 either-sex moose hunting permits and 40 antlerless moose permits in WMU-E for the moose seasons this October.  This is expected to result in a harvest of 51 to 65 moose, or about 5 percent of the moose population in WMU-E.  The same number of permits were issued in 2021 when hunters took 62 moose.

“This permit recommendation represents a continued attempt to address winter tick impacts on moose in WMU-E,” added Fortin.  “Given the poor health of the moose population in that area and a clearly identified cause, we need to take action to address this issue.  Without intervention to reduce the moose population, high tick loads will continue to impact the health of moose in that region for many years.”

The 2022 Moose Season Recommendation and information about the moose study are available on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.  Comments may be provided until March 31 by emailing ANR.FWPublicComment@vermont.gov or by calling and leaving a message on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife public comment voicemail at 802-828-7498.

2 replies »

  1. I have seen and taken pictures of moose that are so infested that they rub all of their fur off trying to rid themselves of these blood sucking parasites. It’s really quite sad to see these creatures plagued with these killers. I have always wondered why it is that we can keep ticks off of our pets, but we can’t we find an anti-tick solution for winter ticks, on moose ? If we can put tracking collars on them at the same time….. If we can put an anti-rabies vaccine in bait for coons, why can’t we address winter ticks on moose with bait laced with anti-tick medication similar to what you can buy for a pet, or apply it with a paint ball ? Just thoughts……

  2. POW trying to fight this. Protect our wildlife would rather have 9 million ticks slowly shut down the moose system. Instead we could allow hunters to place one clean shot to feed their family with fresh organic meat. I would prefer not to allow the moose to suffer.

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