Winter Ticks and Bear Brawlers – Week in Review

The Stories that Matter and the Fuel to your Bar Banter – Canadian Hunting and Fishing News from the Week of November 5th, 2021

Although news has never been so abundant, finding relevant and reliable stories has never been more difficult. Thankfully, Fish’n Canada has you covered. From winter ticks to bear brawlers, here is everything you missed this week in the world of Canadian hunting and fishing!

1- Winter Tick Prevalence Linked to Declining Moose Numbers

A moose displaying signs of a Winter Ticks infestation
Photo by the University of Maine

Starting the week a bit south of the border, a recent finding out of New England is something that Canadian moose hunters are all too familiar with.

In an interview with Wired, Wildlife Biologist Josh Boulin identified that the moose population in Vermont has declined by nearly 45 percent in the last decade and that only 66% of moose calves are surviving their first 60 days. More disturbingly, only 49% were surviving their first winter.

While many would point to habitat degradation and overhunting as culprits for these plummeting numbers, the real cause of the decline is much less obvious.

Winter Ticks.

Winter ticks are a separate species from the Deer and Wood Ticks that we typically hear about but their behaviour is just as disturbing. Unlike other species of ticks, jump from host to host, Winter Ticks grow from nymph to adult while hitching a ride on just one animal.

Although this single-host loyalty does stop the spread of diseases, such as Lymes, the tick’s long ride can drain animals of enough blood to cause death, especially when they are joined by thousands of their friends.

Winter Ticks operate in large groups and mature moose have been found to have over 70,000 ticks attached to their bodies. This occurs thanks to an ant-like cluster formed by the ticks as they grab onto the warm-bodied host which provides a ladder for hundreds of ticks to find their way onto the animal at one time.

To learn more about Winter Ticks and how they are impacting moose here in Canada, check out our featured article at the link below!

2 – Lake Trout Spawning Beds Restored in Diamond Lake, Ontario

Ontarians received some more positive news on the Lake Trout front this week when spawning beds were returned to the once Lake Trout rich Diamond Lake.

Diamond Lake, near the town of Combermere, was once home to a thriving Lake Trout population. However, according to those who fish the lake, these glory days have long since passed. The decline of lake’s Lake Trout population has long been linked to the heavy siltation that it has experienced in the last few decades. This created a destructive barrier between the Lake Trout and their spawning beds, preventing the eggs from receiving oxygen and significantly lowering the number of eggs that hatch into fry. This, however, is soon to change.

Stemming from a project envisioned in 2015 by then MNDMNRF biologist Kirby Punt, this week saw plans get put into action as the silt was power washed away from the Lake Trout beds just in time for the spawning season. With help from the Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, as well as many other local doners, the project will continue its efforts over the winter as they plan to place boulders on the ice when the lake freezes, allowing them to fall in place and create future spawning habitat when the ice thaws in the spring.

3 – Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed in Manitoba for the first time

Troubling news out of Manitoba this week as the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in the province.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a prion disease that targets the brains of ungulates such as White-tailed Deer, Moose, Mule Deer, Elk, and Caribou. Reminiscent of Mad Cow Disease, symptoms of the disease to show, drastic weight loss, stumbling, and other strange behaviour. Although symptoms of the disease can often take more than a year to show, CWD is almost always fatal and there are currently no treatments.

Deer hunters animal lovers in Manitoba have likely been keeping a close eye on CWD stories from out west but, as of this week, it has officially made its way across provincial lines. According to the CBC, the disease was first found on October 14th when researchers euthanized an unhealthy-looking Mule Deer as part of a wildlife health surveillance program. This week, the cause of the deer’s condition was confirmed to be CWD.

In response to the confirmation, the Government of Manitoba is now temporarily suspending the hunting of deer in Game Area 22 until the situation is under control. This step is mostly precautionary and will allow researchers to evaluate the severity of the situation and determine if there are any other animals suffering from the same affliction.

There is currently no evidence that humans can contract the disease, however, a study back in 2006 that confirmed Macaque Monkeys could contract the disease through the eating of contaminated meat has led researchers to warn against consuming any meat from ungulates displaying CWD symptoms.

4 – Cold weather brings life jacket mandates back into the spotlight

The debate around lifejacket mandates reignited this week as nearby Pennsylvania entered its mandatory PFD season.

The law states aboard a boat less than 16 feet in length must wear a coast guard approved life jacket between the dates of November 1st and April 30th. The creation of the law was a direct response to a disturbingly high number of boater deaths resulting from negligent life jacket use – a number that only grew as the water got colder.

Though created back in 2012, the mandate seems to cause a stir every time November rolls around and sparks a wide variety of responses as people debate whether the law should make its way across the border – and, this time, Fish’n Canada weighed in on the debate.

Check out what Ang and Pete had to say in the link below and let them know what you think in the comments!

5 – Bravery Award given to 80-year-old Muskoka man after fighting off Black Bear

Photo by the Ontario Provincial Police

Ending the week on a positive note, an 80-year-old Muskoka man was given a bravery award for fighting off a Black Bear that broke into his cottage.

According to the National Post, Norman Ruff was at his Port Carling cottage on the night of July 30th, 2019 when a Black Bear wandered in through his kitchen window at around 1:30 am. Unable to find his way out, the distressed bear proceeded to charge Ruff and the two proceeded to a fistfight.

“He gave me a couple of good slaps. He was flinging his arms around,” Ruff told the National Post.

After a near 20-minute fight, Ruff was eventually able to open the front door and the bear found his way out. The incident fortunately only resulted in nerve damage to Ruff’s thumb. The damage has since been repaired through surgery and, after a couple of rabies shots, Ruff now has a few scars and a bravery award to remember the eventful night.


Have a story we missed? Send us an email at [email protected]

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