Motorists should be especially alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year, warns the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York. 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.
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. In 2010, three moose vehicle accidents were reported in New York. Fortunately, there has not been a human fatality from an accident 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 this time of year;
- 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;
- If a moose is hit and killed by a vehicle, the motorist should not remove the animal. The Environmental Conservation Law allows a motorist to keep a moose, but only following an on-scene police investigation, and issuance of a permit to possess the dead moose.
DEC continues to work with the New York State Department of Transportation to identify areas where moose are present along roads and have warning signs placed in those more populated areas. DEC estimates that New York has a population of 500-800 moose, but the moose population appears to be growing. Over the past couple of decades, the moose population has mainly increased through moose entering the state from Vermont and Canada. Now, the increase in population is mainly due to the birth of moose calves here in New York.
For more information on moose in New York State, visit the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6964.html. This also offers a link to a photo gallery of moose in New York.