THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF WINTER TICK (DERMACENTOR ALBIPICTUS) IN THE DYNAMICS OF A SOUTH CENTRAL ONTARIO POPULATION
A die-off of moose, apparently winter tick-related, occurred in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada in 1992. Hair-loss surveys showed the highest proportion of moose ever recorded in the most severe categories. Adult females had the severest hair-loss of all age classifications, followed by calves and adult males, respectively. Forty-three carcasses were found during routine field activities. Examination of a number of carcasses revealed either heavy tick infestations or severe hair-loss and depleted fat reserves. The median age of adult carcasses was 9.5 years. Nine newborn calves were found dead during spring cow-calf surveys. Six of the nine calves were stillborn, two died shortly after birth, and one calf was apparently crushed by its mother. In addition, 8 of 26 (31%) radio-collared adult females did not produce calves in 1992 compared to approximately 15% in the previous and following years. We suggest that the winter tick plays a more important role in most population dynamics than previously thought.
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