Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 22 - MOOSE, A Cape Breton Extinction

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1975/3/31 (2419 reads)
 

that clued passing ships that the Americans were there • the odor of rotting car? casses • and evidently that is how Meat Cove got its name. Word got back to Sydney and Governor Macarmick sent out an expedition on snowshoes, walking from Sydney to Cape North. At one place alone they found the skinned bodies of something like 10, 000 moose. Whole families would come to Cape Breton to do this and the expedition caught the Americans off guard and the wives and children were taken prisoner;they were released on the promise the Yankees would go. The moose population must have remained very large because in 1791 Macarmick reports that between 6 and 8000 are being killed each year. He fear extermination at this rate but feels that 4000 could be killed safely each year. Robert Elmsley kept a diary now a part of the Victoria County Archives in Baddeck: "Information furnished by Joseph Quinn, the oldest per? son born at Cape North, born in 1821....Quinn states that the Moose move off once in 15 years or 20. A drove of 300 cross the Strait of Canso, to C.B., in 1853, and were plentiful till 1868, and a great many re-crossed in 1869 or 1870, to Nova Scotia." There is no question excessive kill combined with gradual destruction of wilderness habitat brought the moose to final extinction sometime prior to 1924 on Cape Breton • but recent findings contribute a further factor. The Northern white-tailed deer is the host of a relatively common central nervous system parasite which while ap? parently harmless to the deer is lethal when passed on to the moose. It is a round? worm called P. tenuis and when transferred to the moose it causes "tissue damage to the spinal cord, brain and nerves of the eyes, and possibly ears which result in the typical symptoms of blindness, lethargy, lack of fear, head tilting and eventually paralyses especially of the hind quarters. The intermediate host between moose and deer is a number of snails and slugs which are penetrated by first stage larvae of the parasite. These larve develop into the infective stage in about 3 weeks and are picked up by moose and deer when these animals accidently eat the snails when graz? ing. The infective stages make their ivay to the central nervous system where they develop to the adult stage. These adults do the damage to the tissue and deposit eggs either in the blood stream or on the tissue of the central nervous system. Lar? vae hatched from the eggs travel through the blood stream to the lungs, then up the respiratory tract, are sl'rallowed and passed out in the feces to infect snails and repeat the cycle." (N.S.Lands and Forests Wildlife Bulletin 3) There were no deer in the province in 1867 and the were introduced in 1894, A deer season was first de? clared in Richmond County in 192kJ but no animals were taken till 1927. • • Large-scale cutting in the early 1900's," writes D.G.Dodds, "encouraged the spread of the white- tailed deer, introducing the complex P. tenuis problem and provoking moose decline." Seven moose from the mainland were released in Inverness County in 1928 and 1929; they were taken from the mainland and would thus be the same sub-species that had existed on Cape Breton • Alces alces americanus. Records of this transplantation are scarce and thus the results are difficult to assess. However, a second and success? ful release was made at Roper*s Brook, Cape Breton Highlands National Park in 1947 and 1948. 18 animals were trucked from Elk Island National Park, Alberta. It might be argued that the success of these animals, of the sub-species andersoni, assures finally the extinction of the original moose population on Cape Breton. On the other hand, recent information indicates that while P. tenuis is lethal in moose of the sub-species americanus it is not important to those of andersoni. The moose popula? tion on Cape Breton is increasing and the animal is being found more and more out? side the park. Our primary source for this article was R.L.Peterson*s NORTH AMERICAN MOOSE. Univer? sity of Toronto PressT Our thanks to D.G.Dodds. Acadia University; Austin Cameron. College of Cape Breton; A.P.Duke. Wildlife Biologist and Buddy MacLeod. Technician. N.S.Lands and Porests--for biological data. And thanks to Robert Morgan. Senior His? torian at Louisbourg and the Victoria County Archives. Baddeck • for historical data. The drawing is included in Marion Robertson*s ROCK DRAWINGS OF THB MICMAC INDIANS'T" $2.50 from the N.S.Museum, Halifax. The photos of moose calf and swimming moose are presumed to be by Dalton Muir and are taken from Peterson*s book. The yearling moose were photographed recently at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. CHRYSLER SALES/SERVICE 'rg 55 Victoria Road Sydney "We think Customer" Genuine Down East Hospitality Keddy's Motor Inn 600 King*s Road, Sydney, N.S. Phone 539-1140 '- Telex 019-3517 Cape Breton's Magazine/22
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