SUNY-ESF researchers contribute to Adirondack moose study

Several environmental conservation organizations, including the NYS DEC, have collaborated in a yearlong project tracking moose populations in upstate NY.

After months of tracking moose movements across Adirondack Park through collaring and collecting reported sightings, data from the Adirondack Moose Project’s second winter will be analyzed by late March.

During the first moose collaring back in January 2015, 12 moose were fitted with collars containing GPS transmitters that pinpointed their location every two hours. The GPS collars track habitat use and calf survival and health.

Photo: NYS DEC Facebook page

Besides the collars, the team did their research for 2015 using public sightings, habitat suitability index, deer hunter logs and conservation easements, according to a PowerPoint produced by the team.

The results of the first winter of research included finding 28 moose that were found primarily on conservation easements, a particular type of private land. Of the eight female moose that had calves, 50 percent had twins, which is a positive sign of reproduction, said Samuel Peterson, a researcher on the project and masters in science graduate student at the State University of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.

“One interesting thing I plan on looking at in the future is these moose are kind of at the southern extent of their range,” Peterson said. “What I want to look at is how the potential of climate change might influence what their possible rage might be.”

A team of researchers and wildlife experts from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Biodiversity Research Institute, Cornell University and SUNY-ESF have dedicated the past three years towards the status of recolonizing the moose population in the Adirondack Park.

The current work done by the NYS DEC and SUNY-ESF, including the work Peterson plans to do in the future, is largely funded by the NYS DEC through Pittman-Robertson tax revenue, which is a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is allocated to the states for conservation work, according to an email by Peterson.

As a volunteer for the project since its beginning, Joanne Sandone Reed, a freelance journalist located in the Adirondacks, said that she helped with both moose captures, including the most recent one that happened in January. The team collared nine more moose, bringing the total of collared moose in the Adirondack Park to 21.

DEC  Moose Sightings

Twenty eight moose have been tracked by GPS collars in upstate New York (Photo: New York Department of Environmental Conservation Facebook Page


Reed said that one of the reasons the team is tracking the moose is to avoid moose and car collisions. Car collisions are the number one cause of death for moose since 2000, according to the PowerPoint.

One factor that might limit the moose population is the access to the type of vegetation they eat, which only be reached when areas of land are clear from large swaths of trees, Jacqueline Frair, associate director of SUNY-ESF's Roosevelt Wild Life Station, said. This is why one of the opponents of increased population growth might be logging companies, she said.

In the Adirondack Park, the Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s biggest environmental groups, has owned 161,000 acres of Adirondack wildlands since 2007, according to a Oct. 9, 2007 article by The New York Times. When the group purchased the land from Finch, Pruyn & Company, the conservancy agreed to continue logging to supply wood to the mill for the next 20 years, according to the article.

“It’s not the same forest (without moose). It’s a more resilient system. We want to have all of its parts and we don’t want to lose those native species,” Frair said.

The NYS DEC has been looking at moose for the past 20 to 25 years, Edward Reed, NYS DEC Region 5 wildlife manager said. He added that lack of funding would be the reason why intensive research on the moose has only began in the last three years.

When the research is completed, Edward Reed said that the team will compose a moose management plan in 2018 for New York “for probably a 10-year period.” The plan will be reviewed by multiple people and then released to the public for commenting, Reed said. He said there probably would not be a final plan for four or five more years.

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