A dead hare was observed in Interior Alaska that was infested with a native species of tick. Wildlife officials are asking residents to keep an eye out for ticks on pets and for signs of tick infestation in large mammals, such as hair loss in moose.
Observation by Melinda L Peter:
These are in Fort Yukon. They appear to be ticks. Everyone I have talked with has not ever seen them here before.
Kimberlee Beckmen, DVM with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, writes:
The two most common ticks in Alaska are the hare or rabbit tick and the squirrel or vole tick. They are endemic, meaning they are native to Alaska and always present. Reports of people seeing voles and squirrels with ticks are extremely common. I get multiple calls and photos sent in annually. The hare/rabbit tick is the most widely distributed throughout North America, from Alaska to Mexico. It occurs throughout Canada also. The squirrel or vole tick, Ixodes angustus, is the most commonly reported tick in Alaska. This one is the species we find on free-ranging domestic cats. Sometimes they will be found on a dog and extremely rarely on a person. They prefer their natural hosts. Both of these ticks spread diseases among the small mammals they parasitize (tularemia and babesia at the most frequent). They are capable of spreading diseases, especially tularemia, to people, but since they rarely bite people, there is only one documented case of Tularemia transmission via a tick bite in Alaska (vs. handling a sick hare, contact with an infected cat or dog, which is the most frequent transmission).
I’ve attached our recent press release on Tularemia and a link to our information on ticks (click on “ticks or things that look like ticks). Our big concern is about introduced dog ticks and the potential for introduction of the moose winter tick via mule deer immigrating from the Yukon into Alaska. We are wanting to hear of any reports of hair loss on moose from October to April 1, and any mule deer sightings in Alaska. Reports can be made on the website Or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisa Castrodale, DVM and MPH with Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, writes:
There have not been confirmed human cases of tularemia reported to date this year (as of June 6, 2018). We typically see one to two cases per year. For more information about tularemia and human health in Alaska, see the related Epidemiology Bulletins in the DHSS online library.
Comments from LEO Editors:
An observation was posted on LEO about a year ago about 300 miles to the SW of Fort Yukon at Bryers Lake in Denali Park. The observer noticed a squirrel that had jumped up onto a picnic table had three large ticks attached to it in mid-July. Out of the two species of hare/rabbit in Alaska, this one looked similar to the snowshoe or varying hare (Lepus americanus), the more common and widespread of the two hares species in Alaska. The other species noted as the Alaska hare (Lepus othus) is found in western Alaska along the coast. Source: ADF&G Species. Moses Tcheripanoff
For more information on tularemia see the CDC website.
An article in the Fish and Wildlife News by Riley Woodford titled, Ticks in Alaska, mentions that the native species of ticks in Alaska, are not the problem, but instead, the introduction of non-native species that are of most concern due to the potential pathosis. Another good source of information about tick awareness provided by the Vermont Department of Health's Be Tick Smart suggests taking action to decrease the risk of infections is to wear a repellent containing up to 30% DEET and check your body daily.