Ticks take a toll on the health and longevity of New Hampshire's moose population. One obvious symptom of illness, such as anemia, is hair loss, according to Kristine Rines, who has been the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's moose project leader since 1985.
North Country worries declining moose population will dry up tourism cash cow
The fourth weekend in August has traditionally been a time to celebrate the regal beast whose image adorns everything from motor vehicle license plates to souvenir mugs sold in Moose Alley — the northern section of the state that straddles Route 3 in the Connecticut Lakes region.
But the moose themselves have been noticeably absent this year.
Difference of opinion
The last surveying was done in 2005-2006, said Rines, and at that time, people asked Fish and Game to reduce the moose population because of frequent collisions with moose on the highways.
"People are seeing a lot fewer moose up there because moose just don't come out to the road like they used to," she said. "The DOT came to us years ago and asked what we could do to reduce moose and vehicle collisions up there. We gave them some suggestions and they took them."
"Right now, things are kind of stable in the Connecticut Lakes Region," she said. "Some people, and it's a vocal some people, don't like where the numbers currently are, and we'll be revisiting those goals in 2016 after another round of public input in 2015."
One of those vocal people is Bruce Beaurivage, an electrician by trade and a registered New Hampshire hunting guide who has been taking hunters into the woods for 15 years.
He said some of his fellow guides and some town officials in the area have asked the state to suspend the moose hunt this year, to no avail.
"She (Rines) has already told Fish and Game commissioners that there will be a drastic reduction in the hunt next year," Beaurivage said. "We asked her to do it this year. They should have done it last year. Businesses in this town are writing letters to selectmen because their customers are not seeing moose. Once people don't see moose, they are not coming back."
Beaurivage challenged the accuracy of the Fish & Game moose counts, which are based on recorded observations by deer hunters and hardly scientific, he said. He also took issue with the notion that the public wants fewer moose up north to reduce highway collisions.