IFW Adds An Additional 73 Moose Calves To Moose Survival Study AUGUSTA, Maine — Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists just finished a week of capturing and collaring moose in two different geographic study areas in northern Maine as part of the department’s ongoing moose study. The study provides a greater understanding of the health of Maine’s moose population, particularly factors that affect their survival and reproductive rates.
A team of IFW biologists and a helicopter-based aerial capture team located, captured and collared 73 moose this past week. These were calf moose which were born last spring. There are now 162 moose equipped with GPS collars which will be monitored remotely by IFW biologists.
The GPS-enabled collars transmit twice per day, providing biologists the ability to track moose movements. The GPS collars are expected to transmit location signals for four years. If there is no movement for a certain period of time, the collar transmits a mortality signal, and biologists then travel overland to investigate the cause of death. This is the fourth year that Maine has captured and collared moose for research.
“Once we receive a mortality signal, we locate the dead moose within 24 hours,” said Kantar. Biologists conduct an extensive field necropsy on each moose, taking blood, tissue and fecal samples that will later be analyzed by the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab as well as other specialized diagnostic facilities.
The collared moose are in two study regions. One is located in northern Aroostook county, and the other is located between Jackman and Greenville in Northern Somerset county. New Hampshire and Vermont are also conducting similar studies. All three states are sharing information gathered through the study, which will provide biologists insights into moose survival in a variety of habitats, environmental conditions and moose densities.
“Once the moose is captured, the crew attaches a GPS collar and ear tags, collects a blood, hair and fecal sample, conducts a tick count and weighs the animal,” said Lee Kantar, “The entire process takes between 10 and 12 minutes, we don’t have to sedate the animal, and the moose is released unharmed.”
The radio collar study is just one component of the research that IFW conducts on moose. IFW also utilizes aerial flights to assess population abundance and the composition of the moose herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth to determine a moose’s age, measure antler spread, monitor the number of ticks a moose carries, and examine cow ovaries in late fall to determine reproductive rates.
IFW contracted with Native Range Capture Services out of Elko, Nevada to capture and collar the moose. The crew specializes in capturing and collaring large animals by helicopter and using net guns to capture and collar female moose and calves. Funding for the study comes from a federal Pittman-Robertson grant (funded by the sale of hunting equipment) and the state’s dedicated moose fund (funded through sale of non-resident moose applications and permits).