NH Moose Study – First Year Report

NH moose_collaring_Jan2014A total of 43 moose were captured and collared during the first two weeks of a three year moose study in New Hampshire, a New Hampshire Fish and Game press release reports.The study hopes to find the causes of a decline in moose in the state. Biologists took blood samples from the collared moose, as well as hair samples, fecal samples and winter ticks.

For this initial project work, Fish and Game contracted with a specialized helicopter wildlife crew from Aero Tech, Inc., to capture and collar moose for the study, using net-guns and tranquilizer darts, the release goes on to say. Extremely cold temperatures made the work challenging, because it affected some equipment. Another 45 moose will be captured for the study next January.

Find the NH Fish and Game press release here. It includes links to additional information on the moose decline in NH.

Photo: courtesy NH Fish and Game.



NH Studies Declining Moose

Moose-and-calves-USFWSBetween January 20 and February 2, 2014, the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game will be collaring moose in the northern part of the state to study moose decline, a department press release says. The state has contracted with Aero Tech Inc. to collar moose for the study.

The moose population in New Hampshire has declined about 50 percent in the past 20 years. While that decline is worrisome, it is no where near the decline seen in Minnesota, where in some parts of the state the population has declined by 50 percent in a single year. New Hampshire still sets an annual moose hunting season.

“While regional moose populations are indeed facing some serious threats, moose are not on the verge of disappearing from the New Hampshire landscape, but they are declining,” says Kristine Rines, NH’s moose team leader, in the release.

The press release says: “The current study will span three years. Over a two-year period, radio collars will be placed on about 80 moose cows and calves. A graduate student from the University of New Hampshire (UNH), which is partnering with Fish and Game in the study, will track the moose.

“The collared animals will be tracked for four years and monitored for as long as the collars keep transmitting…. Researchers will be looking closely at whether the increase in moose mortality and reduction in reproductive success in New Hampshire is because of winter tick, or if additional disease and parasite problems or other causes of mortality are in evidence.”

“If this trend is driven primarily by winter tick, then every year will be different, because weather is such a big player” [in the number of winter ticks and in winter tick moose mortality], Rines says in the release.

Read the NH Department of Fish and Game press release, here.
Read and watch the WBZ-TV story, here.

Photo: Moose and calves, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service. This is the photo in the NH press release, although I previously got it from the source.



Tick, Tick, Tick, Moose

Moose-and-calves-USFWSFrom a New Hampshire Fish and Game press release:

New Hampshire Fish and Game is partnering with the University of New Hampshire in a major new research effort to learn more about the causes of moose mortality and how our changing weather patterns may be affecting both the causes and rates of mortality in our moose herd. Funded entirely by federal Wildlife Restoration dollars, this project updates and enhances the research we did from 2001-2006.


Over a two-year period, we will place radio collars on 80-90 adult moose cows and calves. A helicopter wildlife crew will capture and collar the animals. We will track the collared animals for four years, monitoring them for as long as the collars keep transmitting. We’ll be looking at how long the individuals live; and when they die, we’ll try to get there as soon as possible to determine cause of death. This research will help us determine what the mortality rate and causes are at this time. It seems to have increased since our last mortality research project. We want to know if mortality is being caused by winter tick or other factors. These answers will inform future management decisions.

Read the rest of the release, which mostly addresses the impact of winter tick mortality on New Hampshire’s moose population (the point being that the population has suffered, but it’s not about to disappear) here. It is in the form of a Q&A with award-winning moose biologist Kristine Rines.

NH Fish and Game winter tick press release/Q&A

Photo: A moose and calves from the NH Fish and Game press release, however, the name of the file indicates that it came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Citizen Science Works in NH

black racer NHLots of state wildlife agencies have residents counting turkey broods, and New Hampshire does too. But, says an article in the Eagle-Tribune, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has also been successful getting residents to survey the state’s dragonflies and its reptiles and amphibians.

The dragonfly count has been good news for the scarlet bluet, a rare damselfly that had only been spotted in the state five times before. During the citizen science dragonfly survey, there were 40 reports of the species, the article says.

“It was incredible,” Preston said. “We know so much more about dragonflies than we ever have before,” Emily Preston, a wildlife biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game is quoted as saying in the article.

Citizen surveys of reptiles and amphibians have also turned up new locations for the endangered Blanding’s turtle and the threatened black racer, a snake.

Butterflies may be next, the article says.

Read the Eagle-Tribune article here.

Photo: Black racer, courtesy of NH Fish and Game

Round-up of New Hamphire Nongame Programs

nh logoThe N.H. Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program celebrates its 25th anniversary this month. From a department press release, here are some of the projects that the program is involved with:

“KIDS FOR KARNERS” started in 2000 as a way to engage area school children in the Karner blue butterfly and Concord Pine Barrens project. Every winter, biologists go into classrooms where they talk to kids from pre-K through high school about the project. The students then plant wild lupine seeds and take care of the plants until May when they come to the Concord Pine Barrens to plant their wild lupine plants. Learn more at http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/projects/karner_project.html.

PROJECT OSPREY: Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program joined forces with Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) and New Hampshire Audubon to work toward a full recovery of the state-threatened bird of prey by the end of 2005. Learn more at http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/project_osprey.htm.

NH DRAGONFLY SURVEY started in 2007 as a partnership of NH Audubon, NH Fish and Game, and University of New Hamphire Cooperative Extension. Its goal is to gain a better understanding of the distribution of dragonfly species of conservation concern in New Hampshire. In the first four years of the project, over 200 people attended workshops intended to train volunteers in dragonfly biology and data collection methods. Learn more at http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/dragonflies.html.

REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN REPORTING PROGRAM (RAARP) encourages volunteers to report sightings of reptiles and amphibians from spring peepers to snapping turtles. These reports are extremely valuable to biologists. Observations are used to determine the distribution of reptiles and amphibians within New Hampshire. Verified reports of rare species locations are mapped and stored in a database used for land protection and conservation purposes. Learn more at http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/reptiles_amphibians.htm.

TAKING ACTION FOR WILDLIFE is a collaboration between the NH Fish and Game Department and University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to help communities, conservation groups and landowners conserve wildlife and habitats in New Hampshire. The website contains many resources that can help you get involved in efforts to protect, restore and learn about wildlife and habitats. Visit http://extension.unh.edu/fwt/tafw/index.htm.

See more projects at http://www.wildnh.com/nongame.
Read an article in NH Wildlife Journal about 25 years of nongame programs, here.


Mark Ellingwood Named N.H. Division Chief

Mark Ellingwood, who, for the past 13 years, has served as the Wildlife Programs Administrator for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, has been named the department’s Wildlife Division Chief. He is been with NH Fish and Game for a total of 18 years and was also a regional wildlife supervisor.

According to the NH Fish and Game press release announcing his selection, Ellingwood holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Connecticut and an M.S. in Wildlife Management from West Virginia University.  Prior to working for N.H. Fish and Game, Ellingwood served for nine years as a deer biologist and project leader for the Connecticut Wildlife Bureau, and five years as a deer research associate with the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York State.

Read the entire press release, here.

Photo courtesy of NH Fish and Game Department

New Bat Rule In NH

Bats in the barn? A new rule in New Hampshire says that they can’t be removed between May 15 and August 15, when bats are typically raising their young. If a bat has tested positive for rabies, then special permission to exclude the bats will be given.

The rule only applies to unoccupied structures.

“This rule helps protect our remaining bat populations during the time when they are raising young,” said New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program biologist Emily Brunkhurst in a department press release. “While this measure is certainly helpful, we strongly urge people to avoid evicting bats from any structure, occupied or otherwise, during the summer months. Our bats are in big trouble, and, this is something concrete you can do to help them survive.”

The problem, of course, is white nose syndrome, which has reduced the populations of five out of New Hampshire’s eight bat species. Little brown bat populations have declined 99 percent, the release says.

The press release also notes that white nose syndrome has been detected in Rockingham County, in the southeastern corner of the state, near Boston, Mass.

The press release includes many interesting details about white nose syndrome in NH, and is worth reading just for that. Read it here.

Photo: Long-eared bats have been hit hard by WNS in New Hampshire. Courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

NH Dragonfly Survey

Five years, 100 volunteers and more than 18,000 records of dragonflies and damselflies went in to the completion of the New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey.

The survey shows exactly what a good long look can do for the understanding of species population levels and distribution. The NH Fish and Game press release says:

“The good news is that most of the rarer species turned out to be far more common than previously believed,” said Dr. Pamela Hunt, who coordinated the project for NH Audubon. “We even doubled the number of sites for the state’s only endangered dragonfly – the ringed boghaunter – from 8 to 15.” Particularly impressive was the increase in sites known to support the scarlet bluet, a small red damselfly that likes lily pads. “This species was unknown in the state until 2002, and at the start of the dragonfly survey there were only five sites,” says Hunt. “Now they’re known from over 40 sites.


Read the NH Fish and Game press release on the dragonfly survey here.
Read the 54-page dragonfly survey final report here. (PDF)

Photo: Paddle-tailed darner, not a NH dragonfly, but what a photo. Photo by Tom Kogut, courtesy of the US Forest Service

Scale-destroying Fungus Found in Wild Snakes

In 2008 three eastern massasauga rattlesnakes were discovered in an Illinois park with deformed heads. Another was found in the same park in 2010. Tests revealed that the snakes were suffering from a fungal infection — a fungus in the genus Chrysosporium to be exact.

The news is breaking now because the comments a veterinarian involved was covered in an Associated Press article. You can read the article in the Boston Globe, here. The article says that the fungus has been found in rattlesnakes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, too.

The rattlesnake species is a candidate for federal Endangered Species listing, the article says.

As it turns out, the researchers involved published a letter in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in December 2011. The researchers describe the fungus as being similar to another fungus found in bearded dragons, a non-native pet lizard. That fungus is in another genus, though. A very similar fungus was also been reported in a captive black rat snake.

The fungus is described as being able to break down keratin, which is what snake scales are made out of.

Read an html version of the Emerging Infectious Diseases article, here.
Find the PDF version here.

Photo: Pretty poison, a healthy eastern massasauga rattlesnake, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Lynx in Idaho and Other Lynx Links

lynx in snowThe first Canada lynx in Idaho in over 15 years was inadvertently caught in a leg-hold trap, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said on Tuesday.

Read the article in the Chicago Tribune, here. The Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game release is here.

Elsewhere in the West, The Denver Post says that:

“Federal lawyers have backed away from fighting a federal judge’s ruling that favors lynx, clearing the way for possible broader protection of the quick-pawed predators in Colorado and other Western states.”

The article goes on to say that the Colorado Division of Wildlife didn’t wait for the federal critical habitat designation. They’ve already reintroduced lynx to the state.

Read the whole article in The Denver Post, here.

Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, there is evidence that the state’s lynx population is growing. (Growing from zero to something, maybe.) Read the blog entry in the Concord Monitor, here.

In Maine, they have so many lynx (600-1,200) that keeping them out of bobcat traps is becoming a problem. Recently, six lynx were trapped and another was killed. Read the story in the Bangor Daily News.

Lynx photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service