LOWER ENCHANTED TOWNSHIP, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Biologists say that Maine's moose population is holding steady -- despite high mortality rates in other states. Still, the State of Maine has launched a five year study to track moose mortality.
Last fall, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife contracted with a New Mexico company which used helicopters to dart, net and collar 60 moose. The collared 30 adult females called cows and 30 yearlings called calves.
The collars emit signals twice a day and even send out an email to biologists when the animal dies.
This winter, as 13 of the animals have died, biologists have responded immediately to perform an animal autopsy which is called a necropsy.
Biologist Lee Kanter is heading up the program in Maine. His study is ongoing, but he suspects it will reveal a higher than average mortality rate among calves. Adult moose will continue to reproduce so Kanter believes we'll see just a blip in the population.
However, consecutive hard winters could cause problems for Maine.
A number of sportsmen report that Maine deer are simply tick infested and worry that Maine will follow New Hampshire, which has seen higher mortality rates in recent years.
Kanter believes Maine moose are doing a little better because the moose range is father north and Maine's working forest is conducive to a healthier herd.
He also points out that this year's big snow will be tough on moose. He says, the ticks will drop off in deep snow and not be able to reproduce next year.
The moose he examined in Lower Enchanted Township carried thousands of ticks. Kanter said the ticks will eat three blood meals of a moose during the life cycle. They will ingest so much blood that the moose will become anemic.
In much of Maine this winter, the snow was so deep that moose literally plowed snow with their chests as they tried to walk.
Maine's moose study will continue for four more years.