Moose are a mysterious presence in the Adirondacks because of the limited encounters we have with them. Many longtime residents have never glimpsed one! I haven’t.
The New York population of moose is estimated at around 800 three years ago. That’s a relatively small number! However, we just aren’t sure how many moose are in the Adirondacks and scientists have different estimates. Go to the NYDEC website to learn more about management efforts.
Why are moose sightings so rare? Besides their low population, their coats and the times of the day they are active help to camouflage them.
Although moose are massive in size and might appear to be easy to spot, these giants of the Great Northwoods mostly confine their activities to densely wooded areas in which visibility is low and human travel is severely limited. Additionally, moose prefer to forage during periods of twilight, when their chocolate-brown coat causes them to blend into a dark background. (Adirondack Almanack)
Uploaded on Nov 15, 2010: The moose population is growing in the Adirondacks. But just in case you still haven’t seen your first moose, Tom Kalinowski — with some amazing video shots — takes you on a tour of where the moose lives, what it eats, why it likes the Adirondack landscape, and how it prepares for the northern winter. (Youtube)
What Happened to the Adirondack Moose?
An overabundance of hunting and the fur trade, and I’m sure the deforestation of the Adirondacks during the early logging years, contributed to the decline of the moose in our region. However their numbers are improving!
Moose were hunted out of existence in the Adirondacks just before the Civil War, but began to tromp back into the state in the early 1980s, entering from Vermont and Canada. Wildlife experts expect their numbers to continue to climb, but they also speculate that the moose, which rely on birch twigs, maple bark and other vegetation found in northern hardwood forests, could eventually retreat. The animals could leave the Adirondacks for points farther north, after decades of global warming. (The New York Times)
So that is good news mixed with the caveat that global warming may negatively affect their numbers here in the future. Moose are not now listed as endangered or threatened in New York, but they are protected, which means they are off limits to hunting. However if their numbers continue to climb and it begins to negatively affect the ecosystem and/or there is an increase in automobile collisions that may change.
Check out these tips for motorists to be cautious of moose on the roads!
It is an amazing but little known fact that moose also like to swim across Lake Champlain from Vermont just to get to the Adirondacks. I guess they’ve heard about the awesome Adirondack lifestyle! (LakePlacid.com)
Genetic Study in Northeastern US
Recently an interesting study was done to determine the genetic familiarity of moose in the Northeastern United States. The study used dogs to find samples of moose scat in the Adirondacks and compared those found with samples from outside New York state.
So what were the results? The study found a distinct genetic difference between moose living north and south of the St. Lawrence River. What does this mean?
The results show that moose have moved between the four states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and the neighboring Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, but not so much between New York and Ontario and Quebec. (Adirondack Daily Enterprise)
Just what is the significance of finding how moose have moved through the Northeast? According to WCS Livelihoods and Conservation Coordinator Heidi Kretser said that “it could help guide future management decisions involving wildlife and land” (Adirondack Daily Enterprise).
Closer Look at ADK Moose
The Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station set up some automatically triggered trail cameras and captured many close up views of our elusive moose! Check out these images in their video below.
If you want to catch a glimpse yourself, then where would you look? Well, it won’t be easy because they are often on the move and hard to see. Here are a few tips that may help:
Because moose eat so much browse; 40-50 pounds a day of bark, leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs, they spend most of their time looking for and consuming these things. They prefer to eat from willows, birches, maples, balsam fir, viburnums, aspen, and mountain ash trees, and in the winter may strip and eat the bark from small trees, usually maples and aspen. Therefore, driven by hunger, the best place to find moose is in mature mixed forest with open areas created by burns or logging. When it is really cold out, they like to catch some rays and can be seen lying down on sunny, south-facing slopes. (Adirondack Lifestyle)
Fall is mating season. The male moose (bull) will travel great distances to find a mate either following a scent trail of the sounds of her mating call. While it is believed that the antlers are useful in amplifying sound “the primary purpose of these solid boney structures is to serve as a weapon for battling rival bulls” they may encounter on the trail of a potential mate (Adirondack Almanack). If you encounter a bull in fall be wary because it’s full of testosterone!
This region appreciates the moose so much that there is an entire festival dedicated to this illustrious animal. Fall is mating season for the moose, but it’s also time Adirondackers to celebrate the Great Adirondack Moose Festival! Leave a comment if you are one of the lucky few to see an Adirondack moose!