DEC advises motorists to beware of roaming moose

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ALBANY — Motorists should be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year during peak moose activity, advises the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Early fall is the breeding season for moose. 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 sighting of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway, the DEC warns.

While moose are typically found in the Adirondacks, it is not unusual for them to stray into the Mohawk Valley. In January, the DEC verified a moose sighting in Floyd.

Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. New York has no recorded human fatalities resulting from a crash with a moose.

Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height — which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.

DEC advises motorists to take the following precautions to prevent moose vehicle collisions:

Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, especially during September and October;

Reduce your speed, stay alert, and watch the roadsides;

Slow down when approaching moose standing near the roadside, as they may bolt at the last minute when a car comes closer, often running into the road;

Moose may travel in pairs or small groups, so if a moose is spotted crossing the road, be alert for others that may follow;

Make sure all vehicle occupants wear seatbelts and children are properly restrained in child safety seats;

Use flashers or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when moose are spotted near the road;

Motorcyclists should be especially alert for moose;

If a moose does run in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a vehicle-vehicle collision or cause the vehicle to hit a fixed object such as a tree or pole; and

If a moose is hit and killed by a vehicle, the motorist should not remove the animal unless a permit is obtained from the investigating officer at the scene of the crash.

Hunters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to enjoy wildlife from a distance. Do not approach wildlife, particularly species like bear or moose that could be aggressive toward humans or protective of their young.

Earlier this year at the time of the sighting in Floyd, Andrea Pedrick, public participation specialist with the DEC, said the department is investigating the reported sighting. She said there are about 400 to 500 moose in New York State and that it is not uncommon to see such animals in the winter.

“It’s pretty cool,” Pedrick noted. “If you see one, enjoy it. And treat them like a wild animal.”

Pedrick warned not to get close to the moose and not to bother the animal, just like any animal encountered in the wild. She suggested treating a moose in the road like a deer in the road, and to drive defensively.

“You do not want to hit a moose,” Pedrick stated. “It wouldn’t be good for the driver or the moose.”

The moose is the largest member of the deer family, and the largest land mammal in New York state, according to the DEC. Bulls weigh from 600 to 1,200 pounds and stand up to 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Cows weigh from 500 to 800 pounds, the DEC said, adding that both sexes have long, grayish-white legs, dark brown or black bodies, and a dangling flap of skin under the throat called a bell.

Only bulls grow antlers, beginning in March or April. The antlers, which regrow annually, may reach a width of more than 5 feet on mature bulls and are shed from November through January.

According to the DEC website, moose are browsers, feeding on the leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs. An adult moose eats about 40 to 60 pounds of browse every day. Favored plant species include willows, birches, maples, balsam fir, viburnums, aspen, and mountain ash. In the winter, moose may strip and eat the bark from small trees, usually maples and aspen.

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