The moose (Alces Alces Americana) population is beginning to rebound in New York State. Moose constitute the largest member of the deer family and with once dwindling population levels, New York is now enjoying a healthy resurgence of a once scant creature. Standing as tall as six and a half feet, measured from the shoulder to the ground (leaving their neck and head much, much higher), moose were once the target of aggressive hunting practices in the Northeastern states of the US. Population numbers did not start to recover until 1935 when Maine prohibited the hunting of moose. From 1950 to 1990, moose populations in Maine nearly tripled from 7,000 to 20,000. This marked increase was noticed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2010.
Moose numbers in New York State has raised from around 100 in the 1990’s to more than 800 currently. The Department has indicated that the population of moose in New York first increased as a result of moose migrating south from Vermont and Canada, but there is now enough of a stable population for the breeding rates of moose in New York to contribute to the rising numbers as well.
Then existing NYSDEC Commissioner, Pete Grannis, commented that “The return of the moose has been one of New York’s environmental success stories.” However, moose are not “out of the woods” yet. NYSDEC has just recently warned motorists to keep their eyes open for these monstrous mammals while traversing the highways. The Department has stated, “Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York. During this time moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy [the] sighting of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.” So, despite the fact that in the past year only three motor vehicle collisions have occurred between New York State motorists and moose, it seems that increasing population levels may very well lead to increased incidences of collisions…an unfortunate consequence to what is otherwise a success story.