Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2019


In order to answer the question of how people perceive the interactions between winter ticks and moose, and the impacts that these interactions may have on culture, economy, and recreational practices in Maine, interviews were conducted with participants from four stakeholder groups: hunters, outfitters, Wabanaki citizens, and wildlife managers. By using a case study methodology, I was able to explore moose health risk perceptions as described by participants from the four stakeholder groups, and the likely impacts on recreation behavior, livelihoods and economic viability, cultural maintenance, and wildlife management. In this study, multiple data generation techniques (i.e., semi-structured interviews, archival evidence, open ended responses from a questionnaire) were used to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon. Interviewees were identified using snowball sampling and searching the internet. Interview transcripts were analyzed using qualitative data analysis techniques in NVivo 12 Plus to gain an insight into how these stakeholders viewed the wildlife disease risk associated with winter ticks and moose, as well as how winter tick-moose interactions could impact economic vitality, recreation opportunities, cultural identity, and human health in Maine. While there seemed to be a high level of awareness among participants about ticks in general and the threat of Lyme disease, less was known about winter ticks as a separate species. It became clear that participants knew winter ticks could negatively impact moose, and that moose play a huge role in Maine culture. Hunting and recreational opportunities, cultural identity, and tourism all depend in part on having a healthy moose population. From outfitters leading moose viewing tours to Wabanaki citizens who rely on moose for sustenance, winter ticks are a threat. These perceptions that winter ticks could be having direct negative impacts on moose health and indirect impacts on sociocultural and economic factors in Maine, stress the need for continued research on the biological impacts of winter ticks on moose, and more importantly, how these impacts could affect individuals, communities, businesses, and ecosystems in Maine.