Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Moose*
(*But Were Afraid to Ask)
It is true — moose are making a comeback in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and resident moose biologist, Ed Reed, the Adirondack Region of New York is experiencing a biological comeback of the species Alces alces.
If you’ve missed the opportunity to experience Ed’s presentations on Moose in New York State, then you are in for a treat. He will be speaking this Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. at the Adirondack Loj and Heart Lake Program Center in Lake Placid. Hosted by the Adirondack Mountain club, the lecture, “Moose in New York,” will provide information on the history, current status, and future of moose in New York State. During the program Ed will talk about the food habits, breeding biology, habitat needs, mortality factors, and recreational values of moose.
In a recent exclusive and intimate interview, Ed describes a late 1980’s moose-wandering craze that swept from Maine and Canada, across New England and led to the recolonization of moose in the Adirondacks. The moose repopulation of the last thirty years here in New York State replicates the trend seen in New England over the past thirty-five years. Moose from New England and the Province of Quebec are the main seed sources for the Adirondack recolonization.
According to Ed and revealed to me in our interview, 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!
Biologist Ed says the Adirondacks have a breeding population of moose that is now well established and self-sustaining, and the moose population will grow exponentially. After much sophisticated and thorough analysis, he recently increased the Adirondack moose population estimate to approximately 1000.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing moose in my neighborhood and can attest these huge and amazing creatures are an impressive sight. If you share my fixation with these eerily enormous animals and would like to try and catch a glimpse of one, what follows are some viewing tips for moose watching in the Adirondacks.
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.
This year’s moderate temperatures and lack of snow cover is not beneficial to the moose population. The Adirondacks are the southern most extent of the Alces alces species range and like me, moose prefer their winters cold and snowy. Because they are sporting their cozy, warm moose winter coats, moose become uncomfortable and start looking for shade when temperatures go over 40 degrees in the winter. The best place to find a moose on a warm sunny winter day is in the shade of a large softwood tree.
Don’t miss this Saturday’s presentation when Biologist Ed will reveal exciting data from recent aerial surveys and will discuss why moose swim so well. I’ve always wondered if it is because they have webbed feet. As a matter of fact, I will give a world-famous Candy Man Moose Lollipop to the first person attending the lecture who asks Ed the question, “Do moose have webbed feet?”