The Adirondacks afford New York State residents – and tourists from all over the world for that matter – the chance to appreciate Mother Nature in a unique setting, a partnership between public and private interests that has allowed wilderness to exist rather than wane. People go there to get away from modernity and civilization and to experience the High Peaks, the pristine lakes, the old growth forests, and the choruses provided by loons.
Another thing that many hope to see, but few do, is the moose.
The largest member of the deer family (coming in at nearly 1,000 pounds in weight while standing nearly six feet tall) is perfectly suited for the wilds of the Adirondacks, which feature forested wetlands that the creatures prefer.
Despite those conditions, moose could not be considered even remotely common.
Having only arrived in the Empire State in the 1980s after having been killed off by overhunting in the 1860s, their population is estimated to be between 500 and 800 animals. That’s a pittance for a massive area of 6 million acres that is greater in size than the Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.
Moose sightings are rare across the Park. Whenever they do occur the photos grace the pages of the local papers there. To understand just how driven visitors and locals alike are to see their first moose, consider the number of people who drive ten miles of slow-going, very bumpy dirt roads into the heart of the Moose River Plains Wild Forest to see the resident moose swimming in Helldiver Pond.
Even this writer has yet to see a moose in the Adirondacks. I’ve seen quite a few in Canada and consider myself a good outdoorsman, but I have yet to see one of them during one of my twice-a-year forays into the Adirondacks.
I just hope that my first time is not seeing one hanging, waiting to be butchered.
If some lawmakers had their way, moose hunting would be allowed in the Park.
A bill introduced by Senator Patrick Gallivan was passed by his house that would do just that. The Assembly’s sister bill, introduced by David DiPietro, is still in committee.
Interestingly, both of those lawmakers are from Erie County, almost as far away as you can get from the Adirondacks in this state – hundreds of miles from the moose and their habitat and the understanding of the moose’s role in our ecosystem.
It would be unconscionable if this were to be passed by both houses and one would hope that Governor Cuomo, an ardent supporter of the Forever Wild aspects of the Park, would veto the bills in an effort to protect the small – and very fragile -- population of moose. There aren’t a lot of the beasts in our borders and a population that small could be easily ravaged by diseases like brainworm or killed off by the growing number of black bears (which have a hunger for moose calves).
If you love nature, frequent the Adirondacks and hope to one day see a moose – something you will never forget -- write your assemblyperson and the Governor and let them know that this bill shouldn’t be passed in this session or in future sessions.
I’m a hunter. But, I’m first and foremost a conservationist, and I have a good understanding of when we should or shouldn’t harvest wildlife. We aren’t even close to hunting levels with moose. Let’s put the idea of a moose hunt to bed and revisit it in the future….like twenty years from now.
From the 18 July 2016 Greater Niagara Newspapers