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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A while ago I was asked to provide updates on the current Utah moose study, but since I've only been receiving them for a couple of months and it's been going on since January 2013, I needed to get a couple of annual reports (2013, 2014) to get up to date, which I did.

The reports are a bit long and have several charts, graphs and tables, and a bunch of scientific wording, so I'll have to take a few days to post both reports before posting the current updates. And I may have to do it in sections, please be patient and wait until both reports are complete before commenting. (If any of you want the original reports, please email me at [email protected]) Thanks, Lee (UWC)

First off, a bit of background on the project and the administrators:
The project is called "Determinants of Population Growth in Utah Moose" and was initiated by Joel Rupercht, a student of Utah State University as his masters project. He is assisted by his advisor, Dan MacNulty, Phd, Wildlife Ecology, USU faculty, Wildland Resources Dept., and by Kent Hersey, Big Game Project Leader, UDWR. There are other USU students also doing some of the groundwork. I don't know the financial details, but I think we can assume that USU is paying the majority of it through grants, though the DWR may be more involved than just paying Kent's salary. In any case, I think it'll be a worthwhile project if it helps us learn how to save and grow the moose population in Utah and elsewhere. In general, all species of moose in North America are suffering from decreasing numbers.

Here's the 2013 Report: (Edited by myself for clarity and easier reading.)

Introduction

Recent fluctuations in Utah's moose population prompted a collaborative study between the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and Utah State University (USU) to investigate the demographic rates and population dynamics of the state's moose herds. Specifically, we seek to answer the following questions:

1) What are the sources of variation in moose population growth rates in Utah?
2) What are the demographic rates of two herds in Utah, and what is driving differences between them?

To answer the first question, researchers at USU will analyze a 50+ year time series of UDWR aerial moose counts to determine the effects of climate and weather patterns, moose density, hunter harvest, and plant phenology on moose population growth rate.

To answer the second question, UDWR deployed VHF radio collars on 120 moose in two study areas/management units: the North Slope of the Uinta Range and the Wasatch Mountains. Collared moose will be monitored between 2013 and 2016 to estimate the following demographic rates: pregnancy rates, calving and twinning rates, timing of calving, recruitment, and survival.

Our working hypothesis is that moose herds are currently at or above carrying capacity and are being regulated by density-dependent resource limitation.

Information from this study will help to set and achieve sound management objectives for the persistence Utah's moose herds.

Methods

Capture

120 female moose were captured in January and February 2013 by Quicksilver Air, Inc. However, one moose has never been detected and had no capture data recorded, so whether that collar was actually deployed is in question. Thus, the actual collared sample may have only been 119. One additional collar is believed to have slipped shortly after capture. There have been 17 mortalities since the time of capture, leaving a maximum of 102 collars currently on air.

During captures, each moose was fitted with a Sirtrack VHF radio collar, and a blood sample was obtained for nutritional condition and pregnancy assessment. In addition, the following measurements were recorded: neck circumference, hind foot length, metatarsus length, body length , and chest girth. On a subset of moose ([email protected]), a specialized crew was present to evaluate body condition using ultrasonography. For 43 of the moose with ultrasonographic measurements, an incisor was removed to determine age. Only a portion of the micronutrient results from blood samples were available at the time of writing but some preliminary results are present.

Telemetry Monitoring

Aerial telemetry monitoring took place every 1-3 months after initial captures, with monthly flights scheduled to continue for the duration of the study. A crew of 3 technicians monitored moose biweekly from the ground between 6 May 2013 and 20 August 2013. The ground crew attempted to detect signals from each moose every other week throughout the summer and conducted calving surveys to detect the presence of calves with radiocollared female moose throughout the summer months. If a mortality signal was detected, crews located the animal as soon as possible to try to determine cause of death. From each dead moose, we collected samples of internal organs for lab analysis if the carcass was in sufficient condition. We also took a sample of femur bone marrow fat and pulled the first incisor for aging if it was not pulled at the time of capture. We also inspected the carotid arteries for presence of Elaeophora schneideri *(From Lee: seen footnote at the end of this post.) and noted external parasite loads. Ground and aerial monitoring will continue until at least 2016.

Preliminary Results

Age structure

The l4 (left #4) incisor was pulled on 43 moose during captures to allow aging using cementum annuli by Matson Laboratory LLC. In addition, age data are available for 7 other collared moose that died, bringing the total age-sample to 50. Ages at the time of capture ranged from 0.5 years to 13.5 years with a mean of 5.5 years (From Lee: see Table #1). The age structure reveals a herd consisting mostly of prime-aged individuals, with very few older individuals. We will continue to collect incisors from all dead moose to send to the lab for aging.

Table #1: Age structure for all aged moose at capture:
Age 0.5 years - 1
Age 1.5 years - 3
Age 2.5 years - 7
Age 3.5 years - 5
Age 4.5 years - 5
Age 5.5 years - 8
Age 6.5 years - 8
Age 7.5 years - 5
Age 8.5 years - 2
Age 9.5 years - 4
Age 10.5 years - 1
Age 11.5 years - 0
Age 12.5 years - 0
Age 13.5 years - 1

Pregnancy

An adequate blood sample was obtained for 113 moose during captures. Blood samples were assessed for pregnancy status using blood serum assays. Pregnancy rates between the Wasatch and North Slope units are very similar (Table #2). Overall, the pregnancy rate is lightly lower than the species-wide average of 84%, as well as reported pregnancy rates of Shiras moose in Wyoming which were greater than 90% (Becker 2008 ) However, pregnancy rates of prime-aged cows in our study were very high (94%, Table #3) and differed little between the two units. Because pregnancy rates are highly dependent on age, valid comparisons of pregnancy rates should always consider the effect of age.

Table #2: Overall moose pregnancy rates in 2013:
Wasatch-# tested-55-pregnant-41 = 74.5%
North Slope-# tested-58-pregnant-44 = 75.9%
Total-# tested-113-pregnant-85 = 75.2%

Table #3: Age specific moose pregnancy rates per each unit:
Young (1.5 to 2.5 years)
Wasatch-# tested-4-pregnant-1 = 25%
North Slope-# tested-5-pregnant-3 = 60%
Total-#tested-9-pregnant-4 = 44.4%
Prime (3.5 to 8.5 years)
Wasatch-# tested-11-pregnant-10 = 91.0%
North Slope-# tested-21-pregnant-20 = 95.2%
Total-# tested-33-pregnant-31 = 93.9%
Old (9.5 to 13.5 years)
Wasatch-# tested-0
North Slope-# tested-2-pregnant-1 = 50%
Total-# tested-2-pregnant-1 = 50%
(From Lee: The numbers on Table #3 don't match the text numbers, but the point is that prime-aged cow moose are by far the most prolific reproducers.)

We acquired age-specific pregnancy rates for 50 moose . Individuals aged 0.5 to 2.5 years ([email protected]) had very low pregnancy rates (36%) which likely indicates reproductive immaturity before age 3. Individuals between 3.5 to 8.5 years ([email protected]) had very high rates of pregnancy (94%). Individuals older than 8.5 years ([email protected]) showed very low pregnancy rates, a likely consequence of reproductive senescence.

Gasaway (1992) reviewed moose reproduction across North America and found pregnancy rates declined as populations approached and exceeded carrying capacity. The pregnancy rates of our study (75%) are comparable to populations near carrying capacity of the studies reviewed by Gasaway (1992)(76%-85%). However, per the study Boer (1992), if we only consider adult moose older than 2 years, pregnancy rates in our study are 80%.

Calving/Twinning

Calving rates were low in both study areas (Table #4), though the low rates may partly result from survey methodology. Since calf surveys took place between May and August, it is likely that some calves died before surveys occurred. Thus, all calving rates represent a minimum. In addition, we focused calf searches on pregnant females. If a cow was determined to be non-pregnant, it was treated as non-calving. All calf searches were conducted from the ground by homing in on each radiocollared cow to determine presence of calves. Surveys were only considered valid if observers had lengthy, unobstructed views of the cow. When possible, surveys were repeated on cows observed without a calf.

Table #4: Moose calving rates in 2013
Wasatch - #surveyed-51-with calf-14-without calf-37 = 27.5%
North Slope - #surveyed-48-with calf-26-without calf-22 = 54.2%
Total - #surveyed-99-with calf-40-without calf-59 = 40.4%

Twinning rates were extremely low in both areas, with only one set of twins documented in the Wasatch Unit and zero documented in the North Slope Unit.

Although few data were available, we estimated a mean calving date of 29 May.

Mortality

A total of 17 moose (8 in the North Slope, 9 in the Wasatch) died between capture and December 2013 (Table #5). Annual survival rates for both units combined were around 85% and were not significantlydifferent between the Wasatch and North Slope units.

Table#5: Summary of moose mortalities in 2013 (From Lee: ID numbers are from the radio frequencies. The dates are the first date of the dead/none movement signal.)
North Slope:
ID#-031-Date-3/15-Note-Femur bone marrow very poor.
ID#-742-Date-3/27-Note-Moose sick at time of capture.
ID#-700-Date-4/15-Note-Depleted bone marrow in femur. Mostly consumed by scavengers.
ID#-570-Date-5/16-Note-Emaciated, very poor bone marrow. Impaction in upper jaw with infection.
ID#-928-Date-5/22-Note-Tangled in barbed wire fence.
ID#-772-Date-8/12-Note-Injury to right front ankle with swelling. Bear scat at carcass.
ID#-802-Date-8/14-Note-Bone marrow solid, no injuries.
ID#-129-Date-11/12-Note-Emaciated, no body fat. Gelatinous marrow. Pus pocket in hind quarter.
Wasatch:
ID#-440-Date-4/10-Note-Possible capture myopathy
ID#-649-Date-4/10-Note-Emaciated, poor bone marrow. No kidney fat.
ID#-170-Date-4/18-Note-No kidney fat, many ticks.
ID#-561-Date-5/14-Note-Yearling. Very poor bone marrow.
ID#-501-Date-6/12-Note-Tangled in fence.
ID#-100-Date-7/01-Note-Bone marrow indicated good condition.
ID#-661-Date-8/03-Note-Very dried out, unable to collect samples.
ID#-160-Date-8/15-Note-Carcass intact but only bones /hide left.
ID#-672-Date-11/19-Note-Carcass not yet visited. (Location not certain.)

Recruitment

Recruitment surveys are scheduled to take place in March 2014 by helicopter. Multiple observers will be present to document calf presence for each radiocollared female moose.

Body Condition

Rump fat is a strong predictor of overall ingesta-free body fat in moose (Stephenson et al. 1998 ), which is accumulated during summer months and subsequently utilized for overwinter survival and reproduction costs (Parker et al. 2009, Monteith et al. 2013). Rump fat depths in the study ranged from 0 to 21mm, with a mean maximum rump fat depth of 4.47 mm (51 moose, see Table #6). Seventeen of 51 moose (33%) had a rump fat depth of zero. Rump fat depths between the Wasatch and North Slope herds were very similar and were not statistically different between units even after controlling for age and body size. Rump fat depths generally increased with age.

Table #6 : Rump fat depths in both units (51 moose).
Fat depth-0mm-# of moose-33
Fat depth-1mm-# of moose-2
Fat depth-2mm-# of moose-4
Fat depth-3mm-# of moose-1
Fat depth-4mm-# of moose-4
Fat depth-5mm-# of moose-5
Fat depth-6mm-# of moose-2
Fat depth-7mm-# of moose-2
Fat depth-8mm-# of moose-6
Fat depth-9mm-# of moose-1
Fat depth-10mm-# of moose-2
Fat depth-11mm-# of moose-2
Fat depth-13mm-# of moose-1
Fat depth-15mm-# of moose-1
Fat depth-21mm-# of moose-1

However, moose in this study had winter rump fat depths that were considerably lower than what has been reported in other studies of moose across their North American distribution (Table #7). This analysis is restricted to only adult female moose sampled during the winter to allow for valid comparisons. However, since other subspecies of moose are larger than Utah (Shiras) moose, it is uncertain how much of the variation in rump fat depths rangewide can be explained in differences in body size. We are working on acquiring body size data to control for the effect of body size in this analysis.

Table #7: Comparison of adult female moose winter rump fat depths rangewide, 1998-2013.
-Alaska-Keetch at al 1998 - Maximum rump fat depth-1.5cm
-Alaska-Testa and Adams 1998 - Maximum rump fat depth-3.5cm
-Alaska-Bertram and Vivion 2002 - Maximum rump fat depth - 1.3cm
-Alaska-Boertje et al 2007 - Maximum rump fat depth-1.2cm
-Minnesota-DelGiudice et al 2011 - Maximum rump fat depth-2.2cm
-Utah-This study - Maximum rump fat depth-0.5cm

Micronutrient Data

Only a portion of the nutritional results were available at the time of writing. Analysis of plasma for trace element content revealed that many Utah moose are deficient in copper, zinc and selenium. Copper and zinc are essential micronutrients for the immune system and selenium (deficiency) has been known to cause reproductive losses and white muscle disease in domestic ruminants (Puls 1998 ).

Logistic regression analysis of the preliminary plasma results revealed that moose with lower selenium were less likely to have calves, but low selenium did not affect pregnancy rates. Wasatch moose had significantly lower selenium content than North Slope moose which may partially explain the low calf output observed in the Wasatch unit, since selenium deficiencies are thought to cause both intrauterine losses and neonate mortality. When all micronutrient results are obtained, a more in depth analysis will be conducted. We will also investigate why selenium is lower in the Wasatch Unit (moose)(Table #8 ), and whether it is due to the amount of selenium in the soil or mediated through differences in vegetative composition between the areas.

Table #8: Selenium content in the North Slope and Wasatch moose with standard errors.
North Slope - Selenium content (in moose) in ppm - 0.07
Wasatch - Selenium content (in moose) in ppm - 0.05

Conclusion

Although it is still early in the study, our hypothesis that moose population growth in Utah is being regulated by density-dependent resource limitation is evidenced by several preliminary results, including low reproductive output (lower than average pregnancy, calving and twinning rates) and poor body condition (low rump fat levels), both of which are indicative of herds exceeding carrying capacity. Ongoing research will seek to clarify this relationship and determine if other factors, ie; climate change, winter tick loads (From Lee, disease) could be contributing to the observed results.

*Elaeophora schneideri:
Arterial worm; cause of eleaophorosis, aka "filarial dermatitis" or "sorehead" in sheep; or "clear-eyed blindness" in elk, is a nematode which infests several mammalian hosts in North America. It is transmitted by horse-flies. Infection in the normal definitive hosts, mule deer or blacktail deer, seldom produces clinical systems. In other hosts, such as sheep, elk, moose and goats, infecton with E. schneideri leads to elaeophorosis. Symptoms of elaeophorosis include necrosis of the muzzle, ears and optic nerves; lack of coordination (ataxia); or lower limb dermatitis; horn deformitives; blindness; and death.
From Lee: Basically the problem comes from some of the adult worms (2.17in to 4.72in long) lodging in the smaller arteries in the head and face of elk, moose, sheep and goats, instead of moving to the larger carotid artery as they normally do in deer.

Thanks for viewing! I'll post the 1014 report as quickly as I can get to it. It, too, will be in sections.
Lee (UWC)

PS: I'm sorry about the smiley face, but the number 8 followed by the right side ) produces it automatically. I'll figure out how to remove it later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
A while ago I was asked to provide updates on the current Utah moose study, but since I've only been receiving them for a couple of months and it's been going on since January 2013, I needed to get a couple of annual reports (2013, 2014) to get up to date, which I did.

The reports are a bit long and have several charts, graphs and tables, and a bunch of scientific wording, so I'll have to take a few days to post both reports before posting the current updates. And I may have to do it in sections, please be patient and wait until both reports are complete before commenting. (If any of you want the original reports, please email me at [email protected]) Thanks, Lee (UWC)

First off, a bit of background on the project and the administrators:
The project is called "Determinants of Population Growth in Utah Moose" and was initiated by Joel Rupercht, a student of Utah State University as his masters project. He is assisted by his advisor, Dan MacNulty, Phd, Wildlife Ecology, USU faculty, Wildland Resources Dept., and by Kent Hersey, Big Game Project Leader, UDWR. There are other USU students also doing some of the groundwork. I don't know the financial details, but I think we can assume that USU is paying the majority of it through grants, though the DWR may be more involved than just paying Kent's salary. In any case, I think it'll be a worthwhile project if it helps us learn how to save and grow the moose population in Utah and elsewhere. In general, all species of moose in North America are suffering from decreasing numbers.
Here's the 2014 report: (Edited by myself for clarity and easier reading.)

INTRODUCTION:
See previous post.

SUMMARY OF RESEARCH CONDUCTED DURING 2014:
- In March 2014, helicopter surveys were conducted to estimate
recruitment rates of radiocollared moose.
- In May and June 2014, ground searches of all radiocollared cows were
conducted to determine calving rates.
- Moose were monitored continuously throughout the year to document
survival rates.
- Ongoing research is underway to estimate the factors affecting population
growth using aerial count data from 1958 until present.

STATUS OF RADIOCOLLARS:
At the end of December 2014, there were a maximum of 97 collars still on air. However, approximately 10 collars (collared moose) in each area have not been detected for more than 12 months and it is uncertain if their collars failed or they dispersed from the study area. Therefore, only about 77 collars were regularly monitored during 2014. The mean age of missing moose ([email protected]) for which we have accurate age assessments is 7.2 +/- 1.1 years. One collar was confirmed to have failed when a hunter incidentally found a dead collared moose, and the collar was not functioning. Four additional collars emitted mortality signals for a short period of time, but stopped responding before they could be located. These four moose have been censored from all survival analysis.

CALVING RATES:
Calf searches were conducted on all radiocollared moose in May and June to determine calving rates (Table #1). Because not all moose could be surveyed during the peak calving period, it is possible that some moose calves were born but died before surveys took place; as such, these should be regarded as minimum calving rates. One radiocollared moose was found standing over a dead newborn calf. There was only one documented set of twins in either study area which was found in the Wasatch Unit. The average calving date was June 1 (range: May 18-June 12).

Table #1: Summary of calving rates of radiocollared moose, Utah 2013-2014.
Year-------Area--------- Calving rate----------- 95% CI---------- N
2013------North Slope------55.1%---------------41.1%-69.0%--------49
2013------Wasatch----------33.3%---------------20.0%-46.6%--------48
2013------ Total-------------44.3%---------------34.7%-53.9%--------97

2014------North Slope------42.4%---------------25.5%-58.2%-------33
2014------Wasatch----------44.1%---------------27.4%-60.8%-------34
2014-------Total-------------43.3%---------------31.3%-55.2%-------67

RECRUITMENT RATES:
Helicopter surveys were conducted to locate radiocollared moose to estimate recruitment rates (defined as the number of calves which survived their first winter divided by the total number of surveyed radiocollared cow moose, Table #2). Surveys occurred the last two weeks of March 2014.

Table #2: Summary of recruitment rates of radiocollared moose, Utah 2013-2014.
Area----------Recruitment Rate----------95% CI-----------N
North Slope-----37.1%---------------------21.5%-52.7%-------35
Wasatch-------- 23.8%---------------------10.9%-26.7%-------42
Total-------------29.9%-------------------- 19.7%-40.0%-------77

CALF SURVIVAL RATES:
Calf survival (survival of calves born to radiocollared cows) was estimated for a 10 month interval between the period immediately following calving until the end of winter the following winter (June 2013-March 2014, Table #3). Because some calves may have died as neonates before they were initially surveyed, it does not provide and accurate assessment of neonatal survival; as such, the estimates presented here should be considered maximum calf survival rates. Estimates were calculated using a Kaplan-Meier survival function.

Table #3: Summary of calf survival rates, Utah 2013-2014.
Study Area--------- Calf Survival Rate---------95% CI-----------N
North Slope------------84.6%----------------------67.1%-100%-------13
Wasatch----------------100%--------------------------------------------10

ADULT SURVIVAL RATES:
Adult female moose were monitored year-round to estimate annual survival base on Kaplan-Meier survival functions (Table #4). The 2013 estimates pertain to the 12 month period between March 2013 and February 2014. The 2014 estimates are for the period between March 2014 and February 2015. Four moose had collars that transmitted mortality signals but stopped giving any signal shortly thereafter; these moose have been censored and are not considered in any of the following survival analyses. At present, there is no statistical difference in survival between the Wasatch and North Slope units. In addition, there is no difference in survival rates for moose which had a tooth extracted during capture ([email protected]) versus those which did not ([email protected]).

Table #4: Summary of adult female moose survival rates, Utah 2013-2014.
Year-----Study Area--------Adult Survival Rate--------95% CI
2013-----North Slope------------87.2%----------------------78.7-96.6%
2013-----Wasatch----------------89.1%----------------------81.2-97.7%
2014-----North Slope------------87.3%----------------------76.2-100%
2014-----Wasatch----------------88.6%----------------------78.7-99.8%

MORTALITY:
There were 7 confirmed mortalities of radiocollared moose in 2014 (Tables #5, #6). Of these, 3 were infected with Elaeophora schneideri and one had a severe tick infestation. One moose was killed in a vehicle collision on Highway 189. Three others had been scavenged and could not be assessed for parasites or illness. The mean age of moose at time of death since the beginning of the study was 6.3 +/- 0.7 years (Table #7). The median life expectancy for moose so far in the study is estimated at 6 years (95% CI = 4.9-7.7 years). The numbers of mortalities in each month since the beginning of the study are presented in Table #8.

Table #5: Summary of Wasatch moose mortalities in 2014.
Moose ID--Approx DOD--Age at Death--Comments
821----------04/25/14--------12--------------Teeth extremely worn, impaction in lower jaw, high tick loads,
--------------------------------------------------elaeophora present.
750----------06/12/14---------8---------------Moose was emaciated, elaeophora present.
580----------10/15/14---------3---------------Vehicle collision on Highway 189 north of Jordanelle Reservoir.
460----------12/01/14--------NA--------------Teeth extremely worn. Very high numbers of elaeophora in carotid
--------------------------------------------------artery.

Table #6: Summary of North Slope moose mortalities in 2014.
Moose ID--Approx DOD--Age at Death--Comments
821----------05/01/14---------5--------------Only bones and hair left. Bear and coyote sign at carcass site.
780----------05/10/14---------7--------------Mostly consumed. Femur marrow indicated animal was in poor
-------------------------------------------------condition.
092----------09/25/14------------------------Carcass mostly scavenged at time of inspection.

Table #7: Ages of moose at the time of death, 2013-2014.
1 Year----1
2 Years---2
3 Years---2
4 Years---0
5 Years---5
6 Years---1
7 Years---3
8 Years---2
9 Years---2
10 Years--1
11 Years--0
12 Years--1
13 Years--1

Table #8: Numbers of moose deaths for each month, Utah 2013-2014.
Jan------0
Feb------0
Mar------3
Apr------2
May----- 3
Jun------2
Jul-------2
Aug------2
Sep------1
Oct------1
Nov------1
Dec------1

MOVEMENTS:
The majority of moose in both areas have remained relatively close to their original capture locations. Overall, the mean distance from the most recent location(fall 2014) and their 2013 winter location was 4.1 +/- .6 mi. The average distance for North Slope moose was 4.3 +/- .8 mi. and 4.0 +/- .8mi for Wasatch moose.

In the North Slope, there has been frequent interchange of moose between drainages, in particular between Henry's Fork and East Fork Smith's Fork. Moose in the Wasatch have tended to remain closer to their capture locations, except in instances of seasonal migration and dispersal.

SEASONAL MIGRATION:
The majority of moose in both study areas have not employed long-distance migration strategies between summer and winter ranges, instead utilizing different elevations within the same drainage between seasons. Not surprisingly, the trend seems to be that higher elevations are favored in summer and lower elevations are preferred in winter. However, certain individuals have moved down in elevation in spring and summer, possibly to seek out undisturbed calving habitat. Only 3 moose have been documented to make consistent, long-range seasonal migrations which are graphically displayed in the Appendix (map). (From Lee: If you want to see it, email me at [email protected] for an original update which includes the map.) These moose have made the same seasonal migrations on both 2013 and 2014.

DISPERSAL:
Several moose have been documented to make long-distance movements which do not appear to be seasonal movements but, instead, dispersal events. In particular, one moose originating in the Wasatch herd has now been a resident in the North Slope for longer than a year. Another Wasatch moose made a long-distance movement of more than 30 miles before being killed in a vehicle collision. A North Slope moose traveled from Black's Fork drainage in the High Uinta Wilderness to west of Evanston, WY. The ages of moose that have dispersed are 3, 8 and 9 years. It is likely that some of the moose currently missing have also dispersed out of the study areas, but this remains unconfirmed unless they can be relocated.

NUTRITION/TRACE ELEMENTS:
During captures in 2013, blood was drawn from each animal which was analyzed for micro-and macronutrient levels. Results form these tests indicate that levels of three trace elements were well below the levels required for normal functioning in domestic ruminants: selenium (Se), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn); (Puls 1994). Because deficiencies in these minerals have been shown to cause reproductive problems in domestic animals (Puls 1994), we assessed whether there was a relationship between zinc, copper, and lelenium levels and reproductive output using logistic regressions (Table #9). The metrics of reproductive output are defined as follows:
-Pregnancy: whether each moose was pregnant at the time of capture.
-Calving: whether moose determined to be pregnant at time of capture produced a viable calf.
-Recruitment: whether each moose had a calf with it from the previous year at the time of capture.

The odds of successful pregnancies were significantly higher with increasing levels of copper, but unrelated to zinc or selenium. Moose that were pregnant had higher odds of successfully producing a calf if they had higher levels of zinc or selenium, and higher selenium levels were also significantly related to moose recruiting a calf from the previous year (Table #9).

Table #9: Logistic regressions showing relationships between trace elements and reproductive output. Significant relationships (P<0.05) are marked with asterisks, while non-significant relationships (P>0.05) are marked "NS". (From Lee: Note the different ppm/parts per million amounts and the number spread of the effects.)
-----------------Selenium------------------- Copper -----------------------Zinc
Pregnancy-----(NS)-------------------------- (*)------------------------------(NS)
------------------.04 ppm---.73P -------------- .4 ppm---.50P-----------------.75 ppm---.65P
------------------.06 ppm---.74P ---------------.6 ppm---.75P-----------------1.0 ppm---.74P
------------------.08 ppm---.75P ---------------.8 ppm---.90P-----------------1.5 ppm---.78P

Calving ---------(*)-----------------------------(NS)----------------------------(*)
------------------.02 ppm---.25P----------------.4 ppm---.65P-----------------.70 ppm---.40P
------------------.04 ppm---.40P----------------.5 ppm---.62P-----------------.80 ppm---.48P
------------------.06 ppm---.62P----------------.6 ppm---.59P-----------------1.0 ppm---.58P
------------------.07 ppm---.74P----------------.7 ppm---.54P-----------------1.2 ppm---.68P
------------------.08 ppm---.82P----------------.8 ppm---.50P-----------------1.4 ppm---.77P

Recruitment---(*)------------------------------(NS)----------------------------(NS)
------------------.04 ppm---.20P----------------.4 ppm---.37P------------------.75 ppm---.35P
------------------.06 ppm---.36P----------------.6 ppm---.34P------------------1.0 ppm---.35P
------------------.08 ppm---.52P----------------.8 ppm---.30P------------------1.5 ppm---.36P

That concludes the two annual reports!
Lee (UWC)
 

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If recruitment is more affected by copper levels, then you are more likely looking at non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetes. Copper levels associated with wasting conditions are because of disrupted metabolic functions.

All of the following, along with the mineral deficiencies are found with and after conditions like metabolic acidosis, are induced after the consumption of herbicides.
"ID#-440-Date-4/10-Note-Possible capture myopathy
ID#-649-Date-4/10-Note-Emaciated, poor bone marrow. No kidney fat.
ID#-170-Date-4/18-Note-No kidney fat, many ticks."
With the lack of kidney fat in particular I would suspect renal tube acidiosis induced lipid peroxidation brought on initially by metabolic acidodsis. This then leads to the selenium deficiencies via T4 depletion, and copper deficiencies because of the following insulin resistance and disrupted glucose utilization. Or more simply a lack of T4(A selenium dependent thyroid hormone, that is reduced with selenium deficiency) and selenium caused by metabolic acicdoisis, would lead to lipid peroxidation. Which would also account for no kidney fat, and a progression to wasting which accounts for the copper deficiency. This condition also disrupts sulfation and protein metabolism, which has been tied to high tick loads. This is why sulfur blocks are used to combat winter ticks in domestic sheep.

Without a supplemmentation study, you can't actually rule out the affect of selenium on recruitment, this has been demonstrated in several studies(published and unblished, many on goats) that show sub-clinical deficiencies can only be determined via supplementation. Some of the highest rates of selenium deficiency have been seen in cattle over the last few years, with some operators(That have used large quantities of herbicides) experiencing still born rates up to 40%. Selenium supplementation via Selenium 90 blocks in these same areas has reduced those still born rates to 15%.

Copper and selenium deficiencies have been documented in every big game species, in every Western State, over the last 20 years, as biologist have studied the major wildlife declines that occurred during the early 1990s, and the suppression of numbers that followed.

I'm all ears as soon as someone can explain to me the mechanism, with real actual science and biochemistry, how all of these mineral deficiencies, skewed buck to doe ratios, wasting conditions, and thyroid mediated developmental malformations occur, while also explaining away the concurrent use, and increase in use of pesticides, associated with declines. Until then I have one word......Pesticides!
 

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In the late 1980s, and early 1990s we saw a huge expansion of pesticide use on highways, pipelines, power lines, habitat projects, forestry, range lands, rail roads, etc. We are currently seeing an increase on an even larger scale that really got under way in 2011, any guesses as to what the outcome of that will be?

The reason we have seen an increase in many species of wildlife, specifically deer over the last several years, is because during the economic down turn the use of pesticides across the West was seriously curtailed or stopped completely because of a lack of funding. That has all changed and we are headed towards something worse than the crashes seen in the 1990s.

This does not play out overnight, it plays out over years, with many different factors contributing to the ultimate outcome, and timing of that outcome.
 

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My only reservation with Lonetree's conclusion is that the issues at hand are newer and worsening while the use of pesticides is likely stable or declining. It very well could be that there is a lag phenomenon in effect but I highly doubt that we are deploying increased, or even similar amounts of pesticide as has been historically applied throughout the west over the last century. Enough good science should eventually tell the tale. Then the question will turn to the willingness of society to make fundamental changes based on that science.

In many instances, pesticides are applied in relation to food production and public safety. These are not exactly areas where folks are inclined to change their ways.

Thanks again for the updates.------SS
 

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"ID#-129-Date-11/12-Note-Emaciated, no body fat. Gelatinous marrow. Pus pocket in hind quarter."

"ID#-772-Date-8/12-Note-Injury to right front ankle with swelling. Bear scat at carcass."

The moose in the picture below had a fluid pocket(lymphatic system) and also had laminitis in its hooves. Many time laminitis will present as an ankle injury because of hoof tenderness. We have seen and got quite a few reports of hoof issues in moose and deer from all over Northern Utah. You typically see laminitis more prevalently in front hooves because of weight distribution.





Infection of the lymph system(puss and fluid pockets) and lamititis have both been shown to be brought on by conditions of metabolic acidodisis. In Washington state where their elk are suffering from very high rates of laminitis, along with copper and selenium deficiencies, you see a lot of ankle injuries that require further investigation to confirm them as laminitis. In these cases in Washington, these elk are found almost exclusively in forestry areas that are treated with herbicides.
 

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Thought I'd post this here -

I was up Diamond Fork Canyon on Saturday, about 1 mile or so below the Three Forks area, when I turned the corner and saw this lovely young lady.



I've never seen moose up Diamond Fork before, much less down that low. It was awesome! (I've hunted elk/deer through here before and seen plenty of those, though)





I also saw a pair of young moose up on highway 31, right after the junction with the 264, at the first of June. I've seen a nice bull up there in years past, so it's apparent he has at least one cow hanging around with him.
 

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My only reservation with Lonetree's conclusion is that the issues at hand are newer and worsening while the use of pesticides is likely stable or declining. It very well could be that there is a lag phenomenon in effect but I highly doubt that we are deploying increased, or even similar amounts of pesticide as has been historically applied throughout the west over the last century. Enough good science should eventually tell the tale. Then the question will turn to the willingness of society to make fundamental changes based on that science.

In many instances, pesticides are applied in relation to food production and public safety. These are not exactly areas where folks are inclined to change their ways.

Thanks again for the updates.------SS
Pesticide use declined in the Western US from around 2004 to 2011. We now have a huge expansion since 2011. It is big enough I can show you the affects from space. We have not seen this kind of use since the late 1980s, and early 1990s. The scale is absolutely massive.

And the issues are not new. Copper and selenium deficiencies were first document in mass, in the late 1980s and early 1990s concurrent and during the massive declines of the animals that exhibited these deficiencies. This was seen in antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose, pikas, etc. in every Western state in the US. It was the early 1990s when under bites first showed up in mass across the Western United states. They are currently increasing.
 

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Thought I'd post this here -

I was up Diamond Fork Canyon on Saturday, about 1 mile or so below the Three Forks area, when I turned the corner and saw this lovely young lady.

I've never seen moose up Diamond Fork before, much less down that low. It was awesome! (I've hunted elk/deer through here before and seen plenty of those, though)

I also saw a pair of young moose up on highway 31, right after the junction with the 264, at the first of June. I've seen a nice bull up there in years past, so it's apparent he has at least one cow hanging around with him.
I was up Diamond fork Saturday as well, and the road side of the lower canyon has all been sprayed with herbicides, the cattle were all over it, well that and eating dirt on the side of the road after ward. They eat the dirt for the minerals and to to try and reduce the affects of the herbicides they have just ingested. Moose seem to be really drawn to several kinds of herbicides used in road side spraying, I have seen a lot of this.

So will this moose tip over and die tomorrow from eating herbicides if she did eat them? No, the affects of that or other ingestion will play out possibly over several years. In some cases changing the vary DNA of calves she has, if they survive.
 

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And no one needs to take my word for anything. It is playing out in real time across the entire Western United Sates. I am only pointing it out, and explaining the context.
 
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LT I am on your side with is and have been for a long time. I have seen more than my fair share of pesticide use and have searched high low to find out the volume used on a timeline but have never found such information that I could definitively correlate to wildlife. Could not find how much is used and where other than what I personally witnessed.do you have a link or study with such data?
 

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LT I am on your side with is and have been for a long time. I have seen more than my fair share of pesticide use and have searched high low to find out the volume used on a timeline but have never found such information that I could definitively correlate to wildlife. Could not find how much is used and where other than what I personally witnessed.do you have a link or study with such data?
There is no centralized depository on use information. Prior to 2007 they did keep tabs on the production of herbicides. But with exponential increases in use, manufactures were able to get production(and import) quantity reporting done away with.

There is a 2006 BLM report that outlines the proposed increase in use and of products used by them. I don't have it handy on the computer I am on right now. There are also reports for expanded use in National wildlife refuges available on the Western Wildlife Ecology website.

You have to look at multiple sources and budgets to get the information. Hindsight is of course easier, because anything after ~1995 may be archived online. For the current expansion use, I go to Goggle Earth, and individual documents. In Washington they have been cataloging forestry use, based on the public announcements of spraying.

When looking at Google Earth you can only verify certain kinds of spraying, specifically power line defoliation, and private sage brush removal for cattle. These then get confirmed on the ground. Power line and sage brush spraying have not been done on the scale it is being done right now since the late 1980s. You can also find pipelines and pipeline expansions this way. Yo don't see the actual herbicide use in this case, but you can then go find their action plans(typically 5 year plans) that say what they are spraying, and when in many cases. For roads, it just takes drivng them the right time of year. You can look at the growth, and see how long its been since it was last sprayed. And depending on the kind of herbicidal affects you observe you can then narrow down the herbicides. That then gets confirmed by several different means.

I have worked this both directions. Documented herbicide use that leads to wildlife issues. And wildlife issues that then leads to herbicide use. Bu the one thing you see over and over again is where you see massive herbicide use, you see wildlife issues. I have stared at one of the most confounding cases my whole life, it was not that easy to figure out, even though the answer had been right in front of me for two decades. You always have to check and see whats in the water as well, not as easy to ascertain.
 

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I did mean herbicide. Pesticides was on my head because I was just reading a study on it. No better. Just concentrated more around agricultural areas and people.
 

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I did mean herbicide. Pesticides was on my head because I was just reading a study on it. No better. Just concentrated more around agricultural areas and people.
When I say pesticides, its and umbrella term. That has become the norm. Pesticide covers herbicide, insecticide, biocide, rodenticide, etc. This is industry speak, becasue f it is a "pest", we should kill it, right? and anything killed by it, must be a "pest".

In Washington applicators call spraying forests with herbicides, "spraying for deer".
 
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Here is an example of Google imagery. The first is from 1993, that line has never been sprayed. Many, many lines were first sprayed in the late '80s early '90s. This section was not sprayed back then, and had never been sprayed. But other sections of this line were sprayed in the late 1980s.

This particular section, like a lot of others was first sprayed in the early 2002 as shown by the second image. What did our deer population do in the early 2000s?

The third image shows the same section in 2011, when it gets sprayed with huge amounts of herbicides, as does many other sections of this line that had never been sprayed before. Spanish fork canyon is a really good place to take a drive and see the scale of this kind of spraying.





 

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I'm not saying that making the correlation between what we see with wildlife on the ground and herbicide spraying is an easy correlation to make. The cause and effect are sometimes quite removed. But when you look at what herbicides do to animals, and understand the biochemistry, then it gets really hard to explain the realities on the ground by any other means.

Specifically copper deficiencies. These are never caused by conventional nutritional shortages. It is not because there is not enough copper in the plants they are eating. Copper deficiencies are hallmarks of metabolism disruption, so you then need to explain, identify and understand what is causing this disruption. This is biochemistry, not observational life science. It stretches the bounds of traditional wildlife biology, and involves endocrinology and biochemistry, which certainly complicates things.

Do you know what they are proposing in some places where deer are currently declining, and they are seeing copper deficiencies? "Habitat improvements" Do you know what that will inevitably entail? Herbicide use. See how this downward spiral keeps perpetuating itself?
 

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Just don't understand the upswing in pesticide use. I have worked for land management companies who use herbicides for over 20 years and the trend I have seen is less and less. The trend started in the late 90's when surface water testing and discharge permits came into play related to agricultural, timber production, and industrial areas. I have personally been involved in the process of using less treatment each year in attempts to limit liability and possibility of surface water contamination. I have not been directly involved in any spraying operations for the last 10 years but I can't imagine what forces would change the trend.

As far as SF canyon. Why the new practice of spraying? Is it because of increased liability due to fire danger? Just curious what would cause a company to take up the practice of spraying more. Doesn't compute in my mind. All I've ever experienced is how to spray as little as possible and still meet safety and business objectives.

Regardless of the possible connection between pesticide presence and the current decline in some game species, I think it is the responsibility of all, from the homeowner to the resource manager, to limit use of chemicals as much as possible. Just seems like a good idea. If there really is a huge uptick, I'd certainly like to know the reason.------SS
 

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Just don't understand the upswing in pesticide use. I have worked for land management companies who use herbicides for over 20 years and the trend I have seen is less and less. The trend started in the late 90's when surface water testing and discharge permits came into play related to agricultural, timber production, and industrial areas. I have personally been involved in the process of using less treatment each year in attempts to limit liability and possibility of surface water contamination. I have not been directly involved in any spraying operations for the last 10 years but I can't imagine what forces would change the trend.

As far as SF canyon. Why the new practice of spraying? Is it because of increased liability due to fire danger? Just curious what would cause a company to take up the practice of spraying more. Doesn't compute in my mind. All I've ever experienced is how to spray as little as possible and still meet safety and business objectives.

Regardless of the possible connection between pesticide presence and the current decline in some game species, I think it is the responsibility of all, from the homeowner to the resource manager, to limit use of chemicals as much as possible. Just seems like a good idea. If there really is a huge uptick, I'd certainly like to know the reason.------SS
The current upswing is directly related to money. An example would be Sanpete county. After the Woodhollow fire there was a "weed problem". The county sprayed some, but their budget did not allow for the scale of the "problem". So they looked to federal grants. From stimulus money, to the simple fact that the economy is rebounding, their is money to be had. State road crews are no different, it is directly related to budgets and revenue, same with "habitat projects". During the economic decline, tax revenues and grant money were suppressed, and budgets shrunk. With the economy improving, those budgets are growing again. And anywhere there is a government budget growing, someone is there to sell them something including herbicides. No different than when insecticide distributors go door to door to get private land owners on board for "grasshopper infestation" spraying. So the very simplest answer to the increase is economics, this was the same forces in the late 1980s/early 1990s as the economy was recovering from recession.

Spanish fork canyon: With power line treatments, at least in Utah and a handful of surrounding states, this has been driven by changes in ownership, so again economics. When Utah owned Utah power, there was very little spraying, and only targeted removal on right of ways, most of which was mechanical. In 1987 Utah power was sold to PacifiCorp, which is when we see the fisrt mass spraying of right of ways. In 2001 PacificCorp was purchased by Scottish Power, which is when we see the next big wave of spraying. Since 2006, It has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which is where we see the biggest expansion of right of way spraying, specifically since 2011. So power lines are sprayed under the guise of fire protection, but all the deadwood it creates actually just builds a huge amount of fuel under the lines. This the same sort of logic in defoliating road sides. This gets done so there is a "lane" for motorists to see deer entering the highway. This is supposed to reduce vehicle-animal collisions, yet it does just the opposite. Sprayed highways draw in deer, because of the herbicides, and then holds them there for salt and magchloride because of the metabolic disruption casused by the herbicides. So spraying highways actually increases vehicle-animal collisions. But hey car salesmen never let the truth get in the way a good sales pitch.
 
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