It is that lovey-dovey time of year in northern New York when moose mate, otherwise known as the rut. From the middle of September to the middle of October, amorous moose are out and about, looking for love.
For everyone’s safety, Ben Tabor, Wildlife Biologist at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, warned we should ease up on the accelerator, especially at night, dawn, and dusk. Low-light conditions make it more difficult to see moose and give drivers enough time to stop or slow down enough to avoid hitting the animal. Although it is fun to make light of moose courtship, this is no laughing matter. A man was killed in New Hampshire last week when he struck a moose with his car. Tabor said scientific literature suggests people who hit a moose while driving 55 mph or faster had a significantly increased chance of being seriously injured or killed. He said it is best to simply drive slower this time of year in moose country. He also reminded drivers who see wildlife in the road to brake, slow down, but don’t swerve to avoid the animal. A swerve into a tree or oncoming traffic can be more dangerous than hitting an animal on the road.
Cow moose and bulls both wander around during the rut, but the bulls go farther, and are more aggressive than usual. Although cow moose are not the big wanderers, they are pursued by the love-sick bulls, and this leads to moose that show up in places they don’t normally frequent, such as highways, roads, and suburban backyards. This is serious business. The bulls even stop eating after a week or two into the rut so they can devote all their time to the business at hand.
Roads are not the only place you might encounter a moose. If you happen upon one in the woods and it hasn’t seen you, do not approach it. Get away from the animal as quickly as possible. If the moose has seen you and charges, do not stand your ground, run to a tree or large object and hide. A moose on the run can approach 30 mph, so it is unlikely you will be able to outrun a charging moose. In this event, get behind something or climb a tree. For a moose, out of sight is out of mind.
The time to drive slowly and pay attention is now. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation received news of a bull moose struck by a car in Amsterdam, NY, this week. A bull moose who appeared in the city of Troy, NY, had to be euthanized earlier this week when he suffered torn muscles. Moose sightings throughout the Adirondacks and reports on social media have also surged. If you see a moose, don’t forget to report it to the NYS DEC.
Be careful out there.