CONCORD, N.H. – Don’t be surprised if you spot a moose wearing a collar. He or she is not a pet but part of a new study of the Granite State’s declining moose population.

New Hampshire’s moose population has dropped dramatically from 7,600 to 4,400.

Fish and Game veteran moose biologist Kristine Rines said her division teamed up with the University of New Hampshire to put tracking collars on nearly 100 moose cows and calves to study how long they live and to get them soon after they die.

Rines says shorter winters are spawning an increase in winter ticks and brainworm — a parasite transmitted by deer.

She said even if the ticks don’t kill the moose, they can sap the weight of moose cows so much that their fertility is affected.

She said concerns about the dwindling moose population have prompted a drop in moose hunting permits from 675 to 275 in the past six years.

New Hampshire has had a love-hate relationship with moose, Rines said. Several decades ago, the public wanted to lower the moose population to reduce the rate of moose-vehicle collisions, and the declining population did accomplish that. She said those collisions have dropped in the last 15 years from upward of 265 a year to about 170 a year now.

Rines said Minnesota is experiencing similar trends in the decline of its moose population, and has ended its moose hunting season.