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Moose are of great economic, biological, and sociological importance in New England. This is especially true in northern New Hampshire, where a moose hunt is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and regional/local tourism is linked directly with moose. The annual estimated expenditures associated with New Hampshire wildlife-watching exceed $250 million, with moose being one of the main attractions. New Hampshire’s moose population is now in decline, which is why New Hampshire Fish and Game and the University of New Hampshire are teaming up to research the primary drivers of the decline. SCI Foundation is also contributing to this research.
Based on a series of studies completed in New Hampshire in 2005, the known drivers of the decline include disease, such as Liver Fluke and West Nile, winter tick outbreaks, winter stress and predation, which are all compounding on moose at the same time. Black bears are suspected to be the main source of neonatal mortality, but further research is needed to determine if other predators are impacting moose.
The project will measure the productivity of at least 60 adult and yearling cow moose to determine the timing, cause and rate of mortality of neonatal calves to 8 weeks of age over the next three years. It will also produce a direct measurement of survival and mortality of calves.
The findings of this research will be incorporated into the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s (NHFG) comprehensive research that focuses on mortality among all age classes, incidence and impact of disease, and winter nutritional status of moose. These reports and project data will be used to help develop and amend the management strategy for moose in the NHFG’s 2016-2025 Big Game Management Plan.
Information gathered from the NHFG study will provide a critical scientific foundation to understand the current population dynamics of moose in New Hampshire. Further, such information will undoubtedly be useful to other jurisdictions experiencing similar problems such as in Minnesota and Vermont where moose population declines are a prominent issue. This research will also be critical for guiding population goals and harvest quotas.
SCI Foundation is proud to help put university students and biological technicians in the field to survey the populations. The moose is an iconic animal for much of the Northeast and SCI Foundation is committed to ensuring moose populations are healthy and productive. We look forward to providing you an update once the project’s results come in from the field.
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