Steep declines in moose populations in the United States have so far not been seen to the same extent in Ontario and Quebec, but biologists in both provinces say they are keeping an eye on the drop in moose numbers south of the border.

Moose hunting has been suspended in Minnesota, and scientists in New Hampshire are closely monitoring their moose numbers. In both cases, parasites encouraged by warmer winters are suspected as a possible cause.

In Quebec, the moose population has doubled since the 90s to about 120,000, but in southern regions of the province, their numbers have declined, said biologist Sebastien Lefort, who manages large-mammal populations for the ministry of environment.

hi-moose

In west Quebec tags are still being issued for male bulls like the one shown here, but not for females.

Lefort said the Outaouais, in particular, has seen moose numbers drop by nearly half and said ticks may be a factor.

The ministry cancelled this year's scheduled female moose tags for the region with the hunt that began on Saturday for bulls and calves only.

In the eastern townships, biologists also found about 75 per cent of moose are infested with winter ticks, said Lefort.

Ontario numbers stable

In Ontario, biologist Brad Allison with the Ministry of Natural Resources tells a different tale, with moose numbers declining in the northwest and northeast and actually increasing in the south, particularly in the Algonquin Park area.

On a provincial scale, the moose population is stable at about 105,000, said Allison.

He said winter ticks can and do occur across the province but said so far Ontario hasn't seen anything like the critical declines in the United States.