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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Wednesday 09/10/2014 Climate Change Is Impacting Those Who Can Least Afford It in New Hampshire.

Climate change is already really impacting financially those who can least afford it in New Hampshire. Just ask this state's north country businesses who cater to our moose hunters.

With several shorter winters over the last decade causing huge spikes in winter tick numbers moose numbers are down some forty percent. Yes the winter tick actually kills juvenile moose and even impacts adult survival over time. Ticks can number over a hundred thousand on a moose following poor winter conditions unlike the winters that used to kill them off. New Hampshire's moose herd has dwindled to closer to 4,000 animals, down from a robust population of over 7,500 just over a decade ago. Based on a New Hampshire Fish and Game study this past winter ticks took their toll again because of the short winter of 2013. Moose calf deaths accounted for 14 of 22 moose calves radio collared, or a 64 percent loss. These losses are not sustainable. It is the combination of an early spring, bare ground in April when the female ticks fall off and lay their eggs, and a late winter, a snowless November giving tens of thousands of baby ticks an extra month to get on a moose, that spike moose deaths. The results we saw last winter.

Consequently the state Fish and Game Department has reduced moose hunting permits from 675 just seven years ago to only 124 for the moose season starting just over a month from now. That is over an 80 percent reduction in moose hunting permits. From moose hunting guides to north country cabins, hotels and restaurants the sparse numbers of moose hunters this year will have an economic impact in the part of the state that can least afford it. North country industries, like logging and the several paper companies that once reined as economic engines, are things of the past. By mid October tourist numbers have dropped like the colored leaves of weeks past. It was the moose hunters that trudged north to boost the late October economy.

Stressed too is the north country industry of moose viewing. Gone are the nights when a dozen moose could be seen along "moose alley". Moose viewing was a 12 million dollar industry in New Hampshire. Fewer moose results in fewer moose viewers as well. Given continued shorter winters the state's moose biologist has doubts about the long term survival of moose on our landscape. In just one human generation we have witnessed the restoration of a robust moose population and now with climate change its possible demise.

While moose are an economic driver of the state's north country climate change impacts are no less severe on our coast. Historically commercial fishermen plied the winter seas off New Hampshire's coast for Northern shrimp. This was a species to fish for during the winter when other commercial fish species were absent. However a warming Gulf of Maine has sent shrimp populations into a tailspin. Ten years ago the shrimp fishery netted our fishermen some 12 million dollars annually to tide them over our long bitter winters. Not so now as the Gulf of Maine has warmed a half of a degree a year since 2004. We now have temperatures unfit for a cold water species like our shrimp.The ripple effect has been a steep decline in shrimp reproduction. Just two years ago the catch of shrimp was a fraction of historical catches even with an attempt to extend the season mid winter. This past winter the season was shut down completely. Gone is another industry leaving those who could least afford it with no other options.

Yes climate change is impacting our state's economy in terrible ways during an economy that stressed most of us and as it turns out worse yet to those who could ill afford even tougher times.


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