Moose in the Headlights: Motorists Warned About Rising Moose Population
The State Department of Enviromental Conservation (DEC) is reporting that the number of moose in New York State is rapidly rising, up to 800 from 500 three years ago, and as few as 50 in the late 1990's.
The moose have been establishing a base in the area within the last decade, and with that comes increased sightings of the population by hunters. This time of year it's mating season for the moose -- so we're bound to see them more, and more often in areas they aren't usually seen.
This also unfortunately improves the odds that motorists will see them...with their cars. The DEC is warning those in the Adirondacks and surrounding area to be especially cautious when driving during this season. Moose are very large animals and can weigh in at as much as 1200 pounds, so the damage done can be massive.
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.
The DEC advises motorists to take the following precautions:
- 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.
- 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 accident.
The DEC continues to work with the state Department of Transportation to identify areas where moose are present along roads and have warning signs placed.