The following information comes from Mike Bridger, a biologist from the Fish and Wildlife section in the Fort St. John Office of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The BC Wildlife Health Program is looking for help from wildlife professionals and the public with observations of hair loss caused by “Winter Ticks” on moose throughout the province. The Moose Winter Tick Surveillance Program wants to collect observations to monitor the number of animals with hair loss and the amount of hair loss on each animal to estimate winter tick prevalence and distribution. This program will occur on an annual basis, starting this winter. Winter ticks are a significant parasite for moose populations and can contribute to moose declines in parts of their range, including BC. So, it is an important health factor to monitor, particularly with climate change and alterations to moose habitat. The findings of the surveillance program will contribute to the Provincial Moose Research Program, which was initiated in 2013 to investigate factors influencing moose populations in BC.

Winter tick infestations can be observed on moose during February through April. The ticks spend the entire winter on one moose and there can be as many as 10s of thousands on one individual. As the female ticks become adults they feed on blood in late winter and the irritation causes moose to scratch and groom themselves excessively, resulting in hair loss. The extent of the hair loss is a rough indicator of how many ticks are present and can be observed easily from a distance. We know that tick infestations can result in behavioural changes or direct health impacts that may reduce moose survival.

I hope that you may be interested in contributing to this surveillance program by recording your observations of both healthy and infected moose during the winter and spring.

Keep reading to learn how to participate.

 

Moose Winter Tick Poster

IMPORTANT:
There are several methods of documenting moose winter tick observations. Please choose the methods that are most convenient for you. Attached to this email is the following:

  1. A PDF version of the moose winter tick survey that can be filled in on your computer and returned via email.
  2. An iPhone version (see below) of the survey that can be filled out on your iPhone and returned via email.
  3. An iPad version (see below) of that survey that can be filled out on your iPad and returned via email.
  4. If you would prefer to receive paper hard-copies of the survey, please email me (bridger@unbc.ca) with your mailing address and I will send surveys to you promptly.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DOWNLOADING iPHONE and iPAD SURVEYS:

On your iPhone or iPad, use the App Store to download the ‘FileMaker Go 13’ application. This app is free to download (requires iOS 7.1 or later).

Once the download is complete, use the FileMaker Go program to open either the iPhone or iPad version of the survey.

(Get help with using the iPhone or iPad version)

This will allow you to view the survey. It will be saved automatically within the FileMaker Go program until you are ready to record an observation. The survey is simple to fill out, and allows you to add GPS coordinates and images. To begin, hit the ‘+/-‘ at the bottom of the screen and select ‘Add New Record’. You will then be able to fill out the survey. Once completed, hit the ‘Email PDF’ button and send to bridger@unbc.ca

Your participation is greatly appreciated!
Sincerely,

Mike Bridger