The number of moose in New York State has risen to about eight hundred, an increase of three hundred from just three years ago, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. About a decade ago, there were just fifty to a hundred moose in the state.
“The return of the moose has been one of New York’s environmental success stories,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a news release. “In the last four decades, moose, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, ravens and ospreys have established themselves in the North Country after long absences. … It’s wonderful to see the progress that’s been made.”
That’s the good news. The bad news is that motorists have more to worry about. Last year, the state saw ten collisions between moose and vehicles. Fortunately, there were no human fatalities.
Most moose live in the Adirondacks, and they are most active this time year—the fall rutting season. They often are on the move at dawn and dusk, when visibility is poor.
DEC offers the following advice to motorists:
- Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, especially during September and October.
- 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.
As these numbers increase at some point we will see a big rise, maybe we are seeing it already. This area should support a very large moose population. Where I deer hunt I tend to see more moose sign than deer sign. I have seen several moose and now have seen some cows with calves. I remember when I was riding my bike on the McMaster road in Saranac Lake several decades ago and saw “Big Richard”. That was a treat, back then there were only a few including him. Be very careful around these animals, some folks believe that a rutting moose is the most dangerous animal in the woods (even more dangerous than a momma grizzly!). They have one thing on their mind this time of year and nobody should get in the way!
Tom Rankin says
I’ve heard that if you have to brake, you should release the brake at the last instant, so the car is not ‘nosing down’. True?
Tom, I suppose so, but if you are in a car (as opposed to a truck or SUV) you are probably going to hit that baby in the legs anyway. Seems like the slower you are going when the happens the less chance it will be coming through the windshield. A Moose car collision is a very dangerous thing. There will be problems in the Adirondacks if the habitat can hold what I bet it can as far as the number of moose, you will have a bad mix. You will have lots of moose like you see in parts on Canada or Scandinavia, but here you also have a lot more traffic! Also, I seriously doubt that there is a good way to estimate moose numbers in the Adirondacks, without a hunting season you really don’t know yet what is out there.