ASSESSMENT OF A LINE TRANSECT FIELD METHOD TO DETERMINE WINTER TICK ABUNDANCE ON MOOSE

Meghan Sine, Karen Morris, David Knupp

Abstract


High infestations of winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) can exact high physiological costs on moose and are associated with high rates of juvenile mortality. Quantifying tick abundance on moose may help managers calculate overall mortality rates for moose and make harvest recommendations. We compared winter tick counts along hair transects on samples of moose hides to tick counts obtained from chemical digestion of those same samples. Winter tick counts from the two methods were strongly correlated (P <0.001, r2 = 0.88, n = 31). We field-tested the hair transect count method to determine its practicality at moose check stations. Tick counts on 4 body areas per moose (n = 60) generally took ≤10 minutes and were rapid, non-destructive, inexpensive, and easily employed. This method has potential to serve as an effective method to index winter tick loads on moose.

Keywords


Alces alces; Dermacentor albipictus; index; monitoring; moose; winter ticks

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