Moose

Although moose are native to the northeastern U.S., the arrival of Europeans to the area brought widespread forest loss and unregulated hunting that resulted in the near complete loss of the species from the region. Moose were eventually extirpated from Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire; only Maine harbored a small remnant population. A recovering forest, combined with the implementation of hunting laws resulted in the slow re-expansion of the moose population in Maine, followed by its natural recolonization in the rest of the region.

Towering over six-feet tall, with a strong build, the moose is the largest members of the deer family. Capable of reaching speeds up to 35 miles per hour, moose can traverse nearly all terrain, from snow to steep slopes, leaving behindtheir trademark heart-shaped tracks. Although moose are known to have poor eyesight, their keen sense of smell and hearing give them stealth advantages in the wilderness.

Although moose are native to the northeastern U.S., the arrival of Europeans to the area brought widespread forest loss and unregulated hunting that resulted in the near complete loss of the species from the region. Moose were eventually extirpated from the northeast; only Maine harbored a small remnant population. A recovering forest, combined with the implementation of hunting laws, resulted in the slow re-expansion of moose in Maine, followed by its natural recolonization in the rest of the region. One was sighted in New York in 1980 for the first time in a century.Although no formal assessment of the population has been made, in 2015 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation believed that there were 800-1000 animals in the Adirondacks.

Challenges

Unfortunately, across the southern extent of their range in North America moose face myriad challenges, most of which relate in one way or another to climate change. Though moose in the Adirondacks currently appear to be distributed in patches and are in good health, moose in other parts of the northeast and the U.S., especially those living in much higher densities, are suffering greatly from a number of parasite- and disease-related issues that are only expected to worsen in a warming climate. With abundant habitat and no natural predator, Adirondack moose populations were expected to skyrocket when they began returning to the area. The fact that this has not happened suggests that perhaps climate change is making the area less hospitable to the species than had been hoped.

Our Goal

WCS's goal is to understand the status and threats to the moose population in New York, and to work collaboratively to ensure its continued existence in the region.

Our Strategies

In collaboration with partners, WCS piloted a project with dogs that can detect moose scat in the Adirondacks. The effort proved successful and set the stage for expanded detection work with dogs in the Park once again in collaboration with partners. Through this work WCS will recommend various management options based on different climate scenarios and how they impact the way moose use the landscape, how people react to moose presence and interactions with tourists, motorists, hunters, foresters, and private landowners.

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