Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adirondack Almanack: Adirondack Moose Numbers Continue to Rise

Moose numbers in New York continue to increase rapidly, with upwards of 800 moose estimated in the northern part of the state, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) projects this fall. That is up from 500 just three years ago and from 50-100 moose in the late 1990s. Moose are currently a protected species in new York State.

As their population has grown in New England and Canada, Alces Alces, or the North American Moose, began migrating to New York in the last decade, establishing a base in the North Country. That trend has continued with increases in young and adult moose populations and increased sightings by hunters and the public at large. DEC biologists stress that the population numbers are estimated but that the growth is clear.

"The return of the moose has been one of New York's environmental success stories," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in a press reelase issued yesterday. "In the last four decades, moose, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ravens and ospreys have established themselves in the North Country after long absences. Additionally, beaver, otter and fisher populations have flourished to the point that there are now trapping seasons for them. It's wonderful to see the progress that's been made."

Motorists Alert

With the moose numbers on the rise, DEC warned motorists to be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year – a peak of moose activity. Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York and during this time moose are wandering far and wide, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves sighting opportunities for the public, it also increases the danger of colliding with a moose on the roadway.

Much larger and taller than deer, a moose causes greater damage to vehicles, and when struck their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. Last year ten moose/vehicle accidents were reported in New York (with no human fatalities).

Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height - which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.

* DEC advises motorists to take the following precautions:

* Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, especially during Sept. and Oct.

* Reduce your speed, stay alert and watch the roadsides.

* Slow down when approaching moose standing near the roadside, as they may bolt at the last minute when a car comes closer, often running into the road.

* Moose may travel in pairs or small groups, so if a moose is spotted crossing the road, be alert for others that may follow.

* Make sure all vehicle occupants wear seatbelts and children are properly restrained in child safety seats.

* Use flashers or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when moose are spotted near the road.

* Motorcyclists should be especially alert for moose.

* If a moose does run in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a vehicle-vehicle collision or cause the vehicle to hit a fixed object such as a tree or pole.

* If a moose is hit and killed by a vehicle, the motorist should not remove the animal unless a permit is obtained from the investigating officer at the scene of the accident.

DEC continues to work with the state Department of Transportation to identify areas where moose are present along roads and have warning signs placed.

Photo: A Moose in Essex County in December 2008 by Ed Reed, NYSDEC. DEC maintains a photo gallery of New York Moose here.

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