Wyoming Seeks to Understand Moose Declines

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking moose hunters to provide information on their hunt and have their harvested animal examined to help wildlife managers better understand the decline of moose populations in Wyoming.

Green River wildlife management coordinator Mark Zornes says that many moose populations throughout the world are declining, especially southern populations (including Shiras Moose in Wyoming). To accommodate the observed decline, Zornes says Wyoming has dramatically decreased moose licenses in recent years and more must be done to better understand and potentially affect this decline.

“No single cause has been identified for these worldwide declines,” Zornes said. “Increased parasite loads and disease are associated with slight temperature increases throughout the range of moose from Wyoming to Norway and Sweden.

Several recent moose mortalities in western Wyoming have been linked to the presence of the parasite Elaephora schneideri, commonly called carotid artery worm. Mule deer are the normal host for this parasite and suffer no ill effects. However, the parasite can be fatal to other big game animals, including moose. This parasite restricts blood flow to the brain and extremities, causing ear tip and nose tissues to die, and ultimately can result in the death of the animal. We have also documented cases of keratoconjunctivitis (pink eye) and one case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in moose.”

In an effort to better understand the prevalence and distribution of these diseases and parasites in Wyoming moose, successful hunters are asked to bring their harvested animal to a WGFD Regional Office or field check station for sample testing. Hunters are encouraged to bring the entire head (skull plate can be removed) out of the field with them for sampling at a check station or regional office.

“If you intend to have a trophy moose mounted by a taxidermist, a WGFD employee will pick the head up at the taxidermist after it has been caped,” Zornes said. “Please call the nearest regional office and let the office manager know which taxidermist you are using. We will call the taxidermist and request the head be held until it can be picked up.”

Check stations are run throughout the state on opening days and weekends during many big game seasons. Hunters are required to stop at every check station they encounter and department personnel can collect samples at these locations.

However, if a check station is not encountered, or a field check is not made, hunters are asked to bring their moose head to the most convenient WGFD regional office. Hunters are asked to call first to ensure that someone will be available to take biological samples upon arrival.
(Contact: Lucy Diggins (307-875-3223)

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