New study asks public to collect and report ticks

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The State of Alaska is starting a new research project focused on ticks. The collaboration between the University of Alaska, Fish and Game, and the office of the state veterinarian is asking hunters, dog owners, and anyone who finds ticks to collect them.
They are collecting ticks from all around the state in an effort to create a baseline for the state of what ticks are here and where they are.
"As the climate is changing it appears to be really improving for tick survival, with the winters not being as severe and the springs not having as much snow, so it increases tick survival so we need to have a baseline and know what's going on now, so we can understand the changes," said Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen.
Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen says that although the number of ticks found have increased dramatically over the past few years , it might be due to an increased understanding, not necessarily an increase in the population.
"We're getting many more reports, and so over the last five years we've had a great increase in the number of ticks turned in, but I don't know that that's a normal number that would be out in the environment, I think it's more of an awareness thing," said Beckman.
They are asking for the community's help, especially moose hunters right now. The moose winter tick not only can kill the moose infected but effect the population.
"So if anyone is out there hunting and they find ticks on a moose, we absolutely want to know about it right away, and where it is and get samples to determine if we've got that tick," said Beckman.
Moose infected with moose winter tick have characteristic hair loss on their shoulders during the winter in late November through January.
Although there are ticks native to Alaska, there's been an increase in non-native ticks traveling into the state on pets and wildlife. To learn more about how to collect and submit ticks to help the study go to www.adfg.alaska.gov.