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The moose population - 500 strong and growing

In fact, moose have become so common in New York State the department no longer tracks moose with radio collars, and they don't even bother to collect reports of moose sightings. Since first reports began to trickle in back in 1980, the department has collected more than 3,000 sightings. However, the department does still conduct aerial surveys during the winter, when the budget allows.

Sadly, over the 30-plus years it has taken moose to reestablish a viable breeding population in the state, numerous animals have been involved in car accidents. Nearly 60 moose have died due to road kill, while more than 30 have been killed legally. The DEC estimates our moose population is increasing at about the same rate as Vermont's, with an increase of about 10-15 percent per year.

Several advantageous factors can assist in the search for moose during the winter. The snow covering serves to reveal their tracks and to expose their trails. The white background also highlights their dark silhouette, which when combined with a more open forest, serves to expose the big animals more than any other time of the year.

Frozen marshes and bogs, and a suitable crust can also provide skiers or snowshoers will easy travel opportunities to cover such terrain during the winter season.

With adequate snow cover, a competent cross-country skier can cover many miles of terrain in a day's travel, which makes it is entirely possible to cut a moose track or find the heavily trafficked trails near a 'yard.' If you discover moose tracks during the winter, it is very likely you can follow them back to their owner.

However, it is important to remember these big animals yard up for both safety and ease of travel. Do not approach close enough to present a threat or otherwise disturb them, for your sake and for theirs.

If you are fortunate enough to locate a moose, it is recommended you observe it from a safe distance and depart before causing any alarm.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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