A long, frigid winter kills many dormant insects and eggs. However, warm winters allow pests to survive into the spring to bug game animals, such as deer and moose. Hunters may find their quarry suffering as the winter season mellows.
"Cold temperatures are a barrier that limits the spread of potentially devastating outbreaks of disease in our northern big game herds," said Jim deVos, retired chief of research for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, on the website Seasonsend. "If that barrier comes down, big game will die from those diseases at a steadily increasing rate."
Moose in the Rocky Mountains, for example, now harbor dangerous numbers of ticks. The insects survive over mild winters, then strike the moose even harder after the ticks' eggs hatch in spring. The infested moose rub their skin raw trying to find relief from as many as 150,000 individual ticks. Moose may eventually die of complications from the trauma.