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Moose numbers on the rise

Moose numbers are growing exponentially in New York, with roughly five hundred moose in the northern part of the state, the state Department of Environmental Conservation(DEC) projects this fall. Thats up from the estimated fifty to a hundred moose a decade earlier and a handful of sporadic sightings in the 1980s.

Its wonderful to see this marvelous animal make its way back to New York, said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, noting that moose had vanished from the state for roughly 120 years, from roughly the end of the Civil War until the 1980s.

As their population has grown in New England and Canada, Alces alces, or the North American Moose, has moved into New York, firmly establishing a base in the North Country.

The reason moose numbers are increasing in New York is that in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada populations have been steadily rising, and many moose have migrated across the border into New York. So much so that its possible that the increase in New Yorks moose count in recent years is now mainly due to the birth of calves in the state, rather than migration.

Once here there have been few predation issues. Researchers had once thought that white-tailed deer and moose could not share the same habitat due to brainworm, a parasite that is one of the greatest mortality factors of moose. But so far the disease has not had a significant impact.

Moose are most active at dawn and dusk. They are also especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown-to-black coloring and their heightwhich puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.

Moose may stand over six feet tall -- at their shoulder. Bulls may weigh as much as fourteen hundred pounds; cows are somewhat smaller. Calves, sometimes born in pairs, are born from mid-May to early June, weighing twenty-eight to thirty-five pounds. They grow to more than three hundred pounds in five months.

Breeding season is in the fall, with the peak running from late September through mid-October. Bulls are unpredictable during this time.

In the wild, the average life span is about seven to eight years; they rarely live more than 16 years.

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