Monday, July 6, 2015

Adirondack Moose Population Showing Positive Signs

July 2012 at Helldiver Pond, Moose River Plains (Linda Bohrer Erion photo)The Adirondack moose population appears to be healthy and growing, according to early indications from a moose study currently taking place.

“We don’t know how many moose we have yet. We don’t know how frequent the moose are on the landscape. We don’t know their densities,” said Ben Tabor, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “What we do know is that our moose seem to be bigger and healthier than New Hampshire’s and Maine’s.”

Tabor said in recent years state biologists were concerned that the Adirondack moose population might be on the decline because many of the dead ones they encountered hadn’t been very healthy.

“A lot of the moose we found in the road randomly had very bad health problems, from brain worm to lung worm to heart worm, all of these different disease issues, parasite issues,” Tabor said.

In addition, other moose populations in the Northeast and in Minnesota have undergone drastic declines in recent years. The declines have been attributed to winter tick, a parasite, and numerous factors associated with climate change.

However, state biologists began to gain a different perspective on Adirondack moose this past winter when they collared a dozen of the animals, including nine females, with GPS collars. The collars are part of a multi-year study that is trying to determine the overall number of Adirondack moose, where they are located, and whether their numbers are increasing or decreasing. The collars help biologists track them and determine their home ranges.

Tabor said Aero Tech crews, which provided helicopter support this past winter when the moose were being collared, commented that the Adirondack moose were larger than ones in their age classes they’d helped collar in other northeastern states.

Another positive indication of the health of the herd came this spring when biologists noticed that all seven of the adult females that were collared gave birth to calves. The two other collared females were only yearlings and not mature enough to have offspring.

In addition, biologists have found winter ticks on some moose here, but they don’t seem to be having the same impact here as they are having in other states.

“This is all within the last 10 months that we figured these things out, and really we found out a lot of good news because we really expected to go out here and start looking at moose and find out that they’re just dying, and it’s a losing battle,” Tabor said, “because New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, everyone at this latitude are saying moose are dying.”

The DEC is partnering in the study with Cornell University, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Right now, the DEC estimates there are 400 to 800 moose living in the state, and the majority of them live in the Adirondack Park.

Photo by Linda Bohrer Erion: A moose feeds in Helldiver Pond in the Moose River Plains. 


Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues.

Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.

From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.

Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.




14 Responses

  1. Jim S. says:

    This report is great news! I am very optimoostic about their future here in the Adirondacks.

  2. Charlie S says:

    This ‘is’ good news.Let us hope it will be the same news in just five years. Keep in mind the rapid changes we are seeing just about everywhere and know that things can change on a dime. For now the Adirondack moose are fine. Definitely good news. Futuristic me speaking.

  3. Paul says:

    On my game camera this winter – No deer only moose! None looked like they were hit with ticks, but it is probably hard to tell from the photos. They look pretty healthy from a distance.

  4. Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

    Over the last few years, I have found an enormous amount of moose sign (mostly scat, some tracks) in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the western Adirondacks. Especially, between the Robinson River and Oven Lake (2011) and around Middle South Pond (2013). Recently, I bushwhacked from Raven Lake Road all the way east to Wilder Pond and back over a 9 day period and did not see even one piece of moose poop. It was quite depressing. In addition, despite spending plenty of time in the Pepperbox Wilderness Area over the last several years, I have never seen any sign of them in there either. My only live encounter with one in the Adirondacks occurred way back in 2002, when one eyed me near G Lake, just southwest of Piseco. I keep hoping to see another sometime, but so far I’ve been thwarted. At least they can’t take their poop away from me.

  5. adkcamp says:

    2-3 consistent moose on our property NW of Tupper Lake, Spring Pond Bog area. One mature male, one immature male and yearling unknown gender. Multiple game camera captures and one live sighting this year, consistent evidence of presence (scat, tracks, photos) for 5 years.

  6. Marco says:

    Good News!!

  7. James Fox Jim Fox says:

    Yes, definitely good news. Is there a central reporting site where sightings, trail cams, or absence of sign, etc are submitted for DEC biologists to cull results? If there is, broadcast it!

    • Mike Lynch Mike Lynch says:

      The DEC is in the process of developing a webpage for reporting moose sightings. In the meantime, you can call the wildlife staff in Ray Brook at 897-1291 to report seeing a moose.

  8. Paul says:

    ” “What we do know is that our moose seem to be bigger and healthier than New Hampshire’s and Maine’s.””

    This doesn’t surprise me we do everything better than New England!

  9. I’m not a biologist so maybe that’s why I’m confused. But isn’t it a good thing that the dead ones were sick? Wouldn’t it be more concerning if the dead moose had been found to be generally healthy?

  10. Brian says:

    We had one female moose in our woods, here in Forestport, late last fall and early winter. She looked big & healthy and I was just hoping she wouldn’t end up roadkill. Come Feb., we never saw any more sign of her.

  11. Paul says:

    My favorite moose sighting story was one by my neighbors on the Saranac Chain. One September a few years back they saw a bull moose standing at the top of the long stairway that leads to a dock on the other side of the lake. The bull staggered down the stairs walked to the end of the dock and then jumped in and swam across to my property and walked up the bank which is basically a steep rock and into the woods behind camp. That time of the year they will do anything!

  12. Jamie McVannan says:

    I saw my first moose in the Old Forge area this past saturday while fishing the Moose River. A good size bull crossed the river and exited less than 40 yards from me. I took several pics and have 3 videos of it!
    I have been fishing and hunting there for almost 40 years and have never before seen a moose in the wild. Very cool experience.