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The moose population - 500 strong and growing

My friend, Steve, is a rabid back-country skier. He also happens to be an avid horseman. So, it was kind of a surprise he didn't realize what animal made the tracks he found, at first glance. He was still excited when he called me the following day.

"We were skiing into Cathead Mountain, near Benson in the Silver Lake Wilderness Area," he explained. "And, the snow was really deep for the first mile or so, until we started climbing."

"Then, it became real easy going, with packed trails going off in all different directions. It looked like a herd of horses had come through there, and I wondered, who in the hell would be riding way up here?"

"But, when I dug down through the deep snow to the look at the tracks, it was a split hoof, with a distinct dew claw. It was the first moose tracks I'd ever seen," he continued. "And after looking around it was obvious moose had been feeding heavily on the saplings, breaking limbs and chewing the bark off trees."

Much like whitetail deer will 'yard up' in a thick cedar swamp during the winter, moose will also gather in a 'winter yard.' Similar to the behavior of whitetail deer, moose will concentrate their numbers in one location for protection from predators and for ease of travel.

Moose yards are often found in dense, low-lying softwood forests located near watersheds or marshes. Conifers provide cover, diminish snow depth, offer food sources, break wind and hold heat better than open hardwoods.

Moose are the largest animal in the park and although extirpated for more than a century; they are still considered a landscape species and a icon of the Adirondacks. Since the 1980s, I've come across moose tracks on numerous occasions. I first found tracks along the railroad tracks in our backyard in Ray Brook, and again one morning in the fresh snow, right outside the door of our hunting camp near Scarface Mountain.

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