CONCORD, N.H. — Early indications show some promise for a New Hampshire moose herd that has been wobbled by a rising infestation of a troubling parasite, the state’s top moose scientist said.

Kristine Rines, a wildlife biologist and the moose project leader for the state’s Fish and Game Department, said it’s still too early to say with certainty if the 2014-15 winter will be better than previous winters but data so far show fewer calf deaths and fewer winter ticks being found on the animals.

“It looks like we won’t see the kind of mortality we saw last year,” she said at a public hearing last week to consider reducing the number of hunting permits issued this season.

The winter tick has been on the rise throughout northern New England in recent years as winters have been less severe. Long, cold winters with plenty of snow make it harder for the parasite to reproduce because if they fall off an animal and land on snow, they’re likely to die before they can lay eggs.

Among the animals tagged by state biologists, seven of 27 calves had died as of last week, a 26 percent mortality rate, Rines said.

“That’s quite a bit less than the 64 percent we lost last year,” Rines said. “We did see a reduction in the number of ticks that we counted on our hunter-killed moose this fall. We were hopeful that would be the case.”


New Hampshire’s moose population has fallen from about 7,600 in 1996 to 4,000 at the end of 2014.

The state is not alone in its struggle against the tick. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is considering issuing 2,815 moose permits, the fewest number in 12 years and a reduction of nearly 10 percent over last year as its moose population has fallen from about 76,000 in 2012 to between 60,000 and 70,000 today. Vermont’s herd has been cut in half since 2006, from 5,000 to about 2,500, officials said.

New Hampshire has had a moose hunt since 1988, when 75 permits were issued for a three-day hunt in the North Country. The state is considering dropping the number of moose hunt permits from last year’s 124 to 105 this year.

Those numbers compare to a high of 675 permits issued in 2006 and 2007.

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