Cooperative Research Units
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Population Ecology of Moose in Vermont


August 2017 - June 2020


Concern has risen in Vermont and neighboring states over the past decade regarding higher mortality and lower recruitment rates of resident moose populations. High winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) infestations are considered to be a major cause of these trends. Vermont utilizes population models to estimate regional moose numbers and determine appropriate hunting permit quotas required to meet management goals. Model inputs such as age structure, sex ratio, and mortality and recruitment rates are estimated from data collected from hunter-harvested and incidentally-killed moose, hunter surveys, aerial surveys, and from research conducted in other jurisdictions.
Management of Vermont’s moose would benefit greatly from more precise estimates of mortality and recruitment rates. Studies of radio- and/or GPS-collared moose have been and are currently being conducted in Maine, New Hampshire, and New York. While findings from these studies are often applicable to Vermont, there are differences in moose and deer densities, parasite loads, soils, climate, weather, predators, land use, and habitat quality that can affect this applicability to unknown degrees. In addition, Vermont can contribute significantly to the region’s understanding of the influence of these factors, particularly moose and tick densities, and the potential for managing moose populations as a strategy to manage mortality rates from winter ticks.

This proposal is to investigate rates of moose mortality, productivity, and recruitment of moose populations over a three-year period in Wildlife Management Units E1 and E2, which collectively constitute moose management region “E”. This region contains 632 square miles of moose habitat, and hosts the highest moose densities (up to 1.75 moose/mi2), highest winter tick loads, and low deer densities. Initiating the study so that at least two of the years are concurrent with similar research in the other northeastern states enables regional assessments over similar winter tick epizootic events.

Research Products and Activities


  • DeBow, J, C. Alexander, J. Murdoch, and T. Donovan. Assessing mortality and productivity of moose in northern Vermont: Year one preliminary data. 51st Annual Moose Conference and Workshop, Ingonish, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, August 28 - September 01 2017.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 1

Phd Students: 5

Post Docs: 1

University Staff: 2

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 5

Scientific Publications: 20

Presentations: 34



Funding Agencies

  • Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department


Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey
  2. University of Vermont
  3. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
  4. Wildlife Management Institute