Moose tick study suggests infestation is widespread, no health risk to humans
More than 60% of moose in a provincewide study showed signs of hair loss associated with a potentially deadly tick infestation, according to a report released by provincial wildlife biologists today.
Last year, 50% of moose observed were infested with winter ticks. The study ran from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2016, and included observations of more than 500 moose.
The Province launched the winter tick monitoring program in 2015 to establish a baseline measure of the extent of the infestation. The study incorporates field observations from wildlife professionals, forestry and environmental consultants, members of First Nations communities and the general public.
The higher infestation rate this year does not necessarily mean that more moose are carrying the tick, although it does suggest that ticks are a common problem. Biologists are entering the third year of an ongoing study and need to collect more data before they can get an accurate picture of winter tick prevalence.
Winter ticks are an external parasite found on white-tailed deer, mule deer, bison and elk, although moose are the ticks’ preferred host. The ticks can lead to skin irritation and blood loss for moose and, in cases of severe infestation, lead to serious health issues and even death.
- Winter ticks pose no health risk to humans.
- There are between 120,000 to 200,000 moose in British Columbia.