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Moose Management

Image of a Bull Moose walking along a body of water in the grass and vegetation
Bull moose in Hamilton County, NY.
Photo by Rich Nelson

Re-establishment of a moose population in New York is generally viewed as a positive sign of a healthier, more complete natural system. However, there are potential problems associated with their return. Moose tend to inhabit managed forests because the new growth of young trees provides ample food. Yet moose browse on these regenerating forests can compromise the successful regrowth of that forest stand. Moose may also endanger themselves and people when they move across highways or into developed areas.

Understanding Public Values and Experiences with Moose in New York

DEC biologists have begun a process to learn more about public values and experiences with moose in New York. These data will be useful as DEC develops a management plan for moose. Working with researchers at the Cornell Center for Conservation Social Science, DEC is engaging the public in three phases. Reports will be posted as the process unfolds.

  1. Public Awareness of and Attitudes toward Moose in New York State (PDF). This broadbased survey collected information from residents across New York State regarding their awareness of moose in New York and their interests and concerns with moose.
  2. Stakeholder Focus Groups (report pending). Because moose are most concentrated on lands managed for timber production, we convened focus group meetings with landowners and managers of both industrial and non-industrial forest lands in the Adirondacks.
  3. Northern New York Landowner Survey (in process). This survey will focus on New Yorkers who live in the areas occupied by moose, to more thoroughly understand their experiences with and attitudes towards moose, particularly in light of the uncertaintly of future moose populations changes.

New York State Moose Response Manual

Balancing the needs and benefits of moose with public safety and protection of property is the goal of a guidance document prepared by DEC staff. The Moose Response Manual (PDF) provides local law enforcement authorities with information on appropriate actions to take if a moose is reported in their community.

This manual contains information to help DEC staff and other interested parties address various situations involving moose, including:

  • moose observations and sightings
  • moose in or near high traffic areas
  • moose in an urban area
  • moose in an enclosed structure
  • aggressive moose
  • moose calf appears orphaned or separated from cow
  • sick or injured moose
  • moose agriculture conflicts

Each situation included contains background information and a list of recommended actions that will be useful in resolving it.

Moose Damage to Forest Regeneration

As the moose population grows and expands, there is the potential for damage to regenerating forests from moose browsing on young hardwood trees and scraping bark on larger trees. The photos below show this type of damage already occurring on private timber lands in Franklin County.

some young maple tree with no leaves left after being browsed by moose
Moose browse on young red maple trees.
image of bark stripped from a sapling by a moose.
Bark stripped by a moose.

Moose Relocation

Occasionally a moose will wander into an urban or congested area where it poses a danger to itself and humans. If there is no reasonable escape route for the moose, DEC may decide to immobilize it with drugs and move it to suitable moose habitat for release. This process carries some risk of injury or death for the moose, so it is only attempted when no alternative exists. The moose shown below had to be moved twice in one year, once from the Saratoga Race Track, and the second time from a residential area in Queensbury adjacent to the busy I-87 highway.

image of a moose at the Saratoga Race Track
image of a moose in a residential area

Moose Mortalities

DEC monitors moose mortalities to assess the effects on population changes, and to document the presence of diseases and parasites. Moose carcasses or organs are collected from most moose found dead. These carcasses are closely examined to determine the cause of death and to check for the presence of diseases and parasites, such as Chronic Wasting Disease, brainworm, liver flukes, lungworm, heartworm, and winter ticks. Most known moose mortalities in New York are caused by collisions with motor vehicles (see table). Other causes include brainworm, heat stress, and illegal shootings. Adult moose have no natural predators in New York, but coyotes and black bears take some newborn moose calves.

Known Moose Mortalities in New York, 1990-2017
Year Motor Vehicle
Collisions
Brainworm Other/
Unknown
Total
1990 1 1
1991 1 1
1992 3 3
1993 4 4
1994 1 1
1995 4 4
1996 2 2
1997 2 2
1998 1 1
1999 1 1
2000 5 5
2001 7 4 11
2002 4 4
2003 No data No data
2004 16 16
2005 No data No data
2006 16 16
2007 7 2 3 12
2008 7 1 8
2009 8 1 1 10
2010 6 4 3 13
2011 4 1 5
2012 4 7 11
2013 9 3 12
2014 5 1 6
2015 6 5 11
2016 11 11 22
2017 9 1 10

Surveys of Moose Abundance and Distribution

aerial image of several moose in open hardwoods

DEC conducts periodic aerial surveys in the northeastern Adirondacks to assess moose population changes. These surveys have been done since 2007 to establish a baseline from which to compare future surveys to detect changes in population density. Flights are done with either a helicopter or a fixed wing aircraft over known moose habitat in early winter when there is less than thirty inches of snow cover. Moose tend to stay in open hardwood habitats until snow depths exceed thirty inches, then they seek shelter in stands of conifers where they are difficult to see from the air. Due to the high cost and difficult logistics of aerial surveys, it is unlikely that these will be expanded to cover much more of the Adirondacks. So DEC is also using other survey methods to assess moose populations more broadly in New York.

Since 2007, DEC has also surveyed successful deer hunters about their observations of moose. Hunters and trappers are asked to provide numbers and locations for any moose they see while deer hunting or trapping. Similar surveys are used in other states in the Northeast as a reliable index to moose populations. Results of the New York surveys show an increase in the number of moose seen by deer hunters and trappers over time. This survey method will likely continue in the future as an accurate, inexpensive method of assessing moose population trends.