NH to use helicopters to track moose
Researchers are now hunting for clues. Northern New Hampshire residents may hear helicopters over the next two weeks as experts track moose and attach GPS collars to them as part of a $695,000 study of moose mortality and productivity.
"If we lost that animal, it could have a devastating effect on the North Country," said Jonathan Brown, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Moose Festival every fourth weekend in August.
Fish and Game notes that moose are not on the verge of disappearing, but ticks and changing weather patterns are threatening the population.
Moose are declining; the state's moose herd is an estimated 4,500, according to Fish and Game.
"We hope to find out if natural mortality has increased since a similar study was done about 10 years ago," Kristine Rines, a moose biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game, said in a news release announcing the low-flying helicopter flights to begin the tracking component. "We'll look 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."
The flight area includes Berlin, Cambridge, Dummer, Errol, Milan, Millsfield and Success. The core of the study area is within the Androscoggin River watershed, according to the contract. The study is federally funded.
The animal generates around $300,000 each year for the Fish and Game Department, which is used for wildlife management, enforcement and staffing. The annual moose hunt, for which permits are distributed by lottery, has seen a decline in the number of permits available in recent years. Fish and Game reports 675 permits were given out in 2007, while 275 were distributed in 2012 and 2013.
Moose can be found in every county, but the state's largest land mammal holds a certain power in northern New Hampshire.
"The moose, the majestic animal that it is, is certainly an important piece of our natural resources up here," he said.
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