Since I am not an expert in wildlife biology but I love living in a part of the world where I can see other wildlife, and I am somewhat infatuated with forms of life who don’t live in houses, I usually have many questions for the resident biologist. This past weekend is a great example of when I asked and learned something new. Since I seldom pass up a teaching moment, I would like share this information with my readers and clarify the actions taken Saturday afternoon by NY State DEC Wildlife officials as explained to me by the NY State Large Mammal Biologist for the Adirondacks, Edward Reed.
The bull moose in question was reported to the DEC and described as “stuck” in the Ausable River. When officials arrived the moose had indeed been observed standing in one place in the river along Route 86 for a few hours. The moose was observed by the humans who were stopping in the middle of the NY State highway Route 86, in the Wilmington Notch, to take pictures, and by those walking in the road, a road not intended for pedestrians. Point of information; the notch is called the notch for a reason, it is: “a deep, narrow opening or pass between mountains; gap; defile.” So where normally cars and trucks buzz through a narrow, mountainous, twisting stretch of busy tourist-clogged highway, at speeds of 55 miles per hour, motorists and their passengers decided to stop in the middle of the road to watch the moose.
The State Police were justifiable worried about public safety because of the traffic hazards created by the humans. They asked DEC officials to assess the situation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bull Moose seemed quite content in the river. He was observed shifting his weight and moving all 4 feet, indicating he was not ‘stuck’ in the river. But, he wasn’t moving and people were still being stupid. Oh, wait, I meant to say, people continued to create an unsafe situation by stopping and walking in the road.
DEC Wildlife officials wanted to see if the moose was injured and could move. The best way to do that without putting someone in danger was to get the moose’s attention and make him want to move. To be clear, it is not an option to approach a bull moose in breeding season (now) because they will stomp you to death. No kidding. Tossing stones in his direction didn’t work, and blasting him with the police car siren and horn did not bother him a bit, although I found it quite annoying. Finally, DEC officials deployed harmless paint balls, the kind 12-year-old boys enjoy getting hit with, in an attempt to make Mr. Moose move around to see if he was seriously injured. It worked: he moved and he isn’t.
The paint balls were shot as such a low velocity, (rapidity of motion or operation; swiftness; speed) that the wind from the rainstorm we all endured to gaze at the moose caught the paint balls very easily and affected the trajectory. When they found the target, he barely felt a thing.
This is why poor Mr. Bull Moose, who in preparation for the rut had just had his winter coat cleaned in order to be spruced up for the ladies, now faces a long, lonely breeding season.
As of Monday evening, Mr. Bull Moose was still hanging around the notch. DEC Wildlife officials advise, “Please leave him alone, we’re keeping an eye on him, you keep an eye on the road.”
As my regular readers know, I like to keep it positive here on the Adirondack Lifestyle blog; life’s too short. I won’t be publishing any negative or hateful comments. But I will be publishing more neat moose photographs. Let’s not forget the fall foliage tracking project; stay tuned for today’s photograph.