Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New York Project

Parasitic Threats to Moose and Moose Juvenile Survival

September 2020 - May 2025


Participating Agencies

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Health metrics on adult moose indicate a high pregnancy rate and subsequent calf production. However, the majority (78%) of adult cow moose in New York have been exposed to deer brainworm, which has been implicated as a major pathogen for juvenile moose. Moose in New York may be exposed to brainworm as calves, which affects their ability to survive the first year and become breeding age animals. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are experiencing significant juvenile mortality associated with winter ticks. Although overall moose density in the Adirondacks of New York is relatively low, high moose densities in preferred habitats may increase winter tick transmission potential. Initiating a research study at the beginning of an epizootic event will offer greater insights into mechanisms and allow for potential treatment alternatives.

We will estimate survival and collect tick density data, implement a camera trapping study to monitor winter tick prevalence, conduct white-tailed deer pellet surveys to estimate deer density, collect gastropods and deer pellets to test for brainworm and liver fluke, and will develop a risk model for parasitic threats to moose in the northwestern Adirondacks. The project is in collaboration with the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab (Dr. Krysten Schuler), State University of New York, College of Environmental Science Forestry (Dr. Jacqueline Frair), The Wildlife Conservation Society (Dr. Heidi Kretser), and theNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation.