WEST PARIS — Moose and deer tick infestations this year are among the worst that woodsmen and big-game meat processors have seen. They’re blaming the population boom on unseasonably warm weather and the lack of prolonged deep freezes during winter.
Shed antler hunters such as Jerrold Mason of West Paris and Eric Hall of Jackman noticed the problem this past spring when they found more than 60 dead moose from the Upper Androscoggin River Valley to the Jackman region.
“These are definitely not winter kill,” Mason said recently. “Of the typical winter kill animals like moose, it gets sick, it stands in a small area and basically you find 400 moose droppings and a dead moose in the middle of it.”
But what Mason and Hall are labeling as tick kills are dead moose still laden with so many ticks that predators won’t touch them.
“That’s our guess,” Hall, 32, said Wednesday afternoon.
He and a few friends said they found 50 dead moose calves and adult moose this year in the Jackman region while looking for horns and doing some spring fishing.
“Every single one that I had found and that the other guys had found, the snow was just starting to come off them and they were totally untouched, so it’s obvious it’s not a predator kill,” Hall said. “You could see ticks right on them.”
“Personally, I found 11,” Mason said of the dead moose he discovered from the Western Foothills to the Rangeley area.
“The coyotes wouldn’t eat them; the bears wouldn’t eat them; and they were all the way up through (Jackman), and those guys up there found the biggest bunches of them,” he said.
“It’s a devastating thing when you’re out there and you find a dead cow moose and you find last year’s calf within a few hundred yards from her and not even knowing what’s inside of (the cow) — what she lost — so we’re losing a whole generation,” Mason said.
Normally, Hall said he’d find one to five dead moose every spring.