By Alice Menis, Paul Smith’s College VIC Steward
Do you dream of finding an Adirondack moose? Look no further, here at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Information Center we have had multiple sightings of a moose!
Our first photograph of the moose was taken via trail camera during a research project by STEM students at Paul Smith’s College. For the past few weeks, we have been finding tracks on our trails but no one reported a sighting until Wednesday, June 16, when a lucky hiker captured a picture of the moose on the Heron Marsh Trail. The moose has been hanging out near this trail because there is plenty of food in the marsh. Moose love to eat wetland plants such as pond lilies because of their high sodium content. Moose also enjoy leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs.
We are excited to see a moose here at the VIC so early in the year. Typically, moose sightings occur during breeding seasons in late September and October. One reason moose are so fascinating is their size. Moose are the largest in the deer family and weigh between 600 to 1,200 pounds. Having trouble picturing that weight? Cows only weigh between 500 to 800 pounds. Despite their size, moose move quickly and gracefully through the forest and are excellent at camouflage. Moose enjoy wide trails and fields where they can have more freedom.
Adirondack moose are low in population density and their overall population ranges from 400-800 moose. To most people, this is an alarmingly small density but, in the Adirondacks, it is a sign of growth. In the 1800s the Adirondack moose population was nearly wiped out by unregulated hunting and deforestation. It was not until 1980 that moose sightings were documented again by the DEC. Now hunting the majestic moose is a crime in New York State. Predators to moose still lurk in the Adirondacks. Black bears are the main predators, but coyotes often go after an unsuspecting young calf. Moose are also threatened by automobile collisions, and it is recommended you drive slowly at night to avoid harming a moose.
The most dangerous threats to the moose are much smaller. Parasites often wipe out entire herds of moose. Brain Worm is one of those parasites which causes neurological issues and death. Ticks are another parasitic threat to moose; tens of thousands of ticks can latch onto just one moose. Tick related deaths are lower in the Adirondacks than in Maine. The low population density of the Adirondack moose prevents the spread of ticks to multiple moose. However, due to global warming, ticks survive and take on hosts late into October when they normally would be gone. Although tick related deaths in the Adirondacks are low, this may be a start to a deadly epidemic.
Moose sightings typically occur at dawn or dusk. Our trails open at dawn, and we welcome visitors to go on their own moose hunt. If you reserve and camp at one of our lean-tos you will have a head start on spotting the moose early in the morning. Never approach a moose once you see one as not to startle it. Moose do not want to hurt people, but they will charge if they feel threatened. If a moose starts to approach you do not stand your ground, run away quickly. We encourage you to take pictures or admire the moose from afar. If you take any picture of the moose or tracks send them to us here at the VIC!
You can find more blogs and podcasts from our Stewards and Naturalists at the PSC VIC online at https://www.paulsmiths.edu/vic/naturalists/
Moose photo courtesy of Ed Grant and taken recently at the VIC. Trail cam pic provided by Paul Smith’s College VIC.