Moose tick population skyrockets after mild winter in Idaho Panh - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Moose tick population skyrockets after mild winter in Idaho Panhandle

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(KHQ.COM)- Idaho Fish and Game have been receiving multiple calls about moose dying of tick infestations in the Idaho Panhandle. The mild 2013-2014 winter season has led to a booming moose tick population that is wreaking havoc in the areas of Coeur d'Alene, Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, and the lower St. Joe River.

During the summer months, moose tick eggs lay unhatched in soil. The tick eggs hatch during the fall and during the winter months, they attach themselves to moose, feed on them to survive, then lay more eggs on the ground.  If a moose tick lays it's eggs on the snow, the survival rate for their offspring is low, but if there is no snow on the ground, and those unhatched eggs land on soil, the survival rate grows. That's why the tick population is skyrocketing.

Most moose can have anywhere from 50 to hundreds of ticks on their bodies during the winter months. According to Wayne Wakkinen, the Regional Wildlife Manager of Idaho Fish and Game, right now, many of the moose in the Idaho Panhandle are infested with tens of thousands of moose ticks. Many of the animals will survive but others will succumb to the tick infestation. When a moose is infested with ticks, they will rub their bodies against hard surfaces for relief which can lead to extensive hair loss.

Wakkinen says this year's mild winter could mean the tick infestations will be worse in 2016.

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