In early April New York State Environmental Conservation Officers and other Department of Environmental Conservation employees brought a dead yearling moose out of a heavily forested area in Onchiota, Franklin County, in the Adirondacks. DEC had fitted the moose with a GPS collar in 2022. The collar recently gave off a signal indicating the animal was no longer alive.
The Officers and Wildlife employees managed to get within 500 yards of the moose carcass by snowmobile and UTV before hiking the remaining distance through two to three feet of snow. Once they reached the moose, the group loaded the animal onto a sled and pulled it back to the snowmobiles.
The recovered animal was sent to DEC’s wildlife pathology laboratory in Delmar for a necropsy which concluded that the parasitic flatworm giant liver fluke (Fascioloides magna) was the likely cause of death.
This is the second year of a moose research project in the Adirondacks. This year, 19 moose were fitted with GPS collars as part of a multi-year project assessing moose health and population.
There are approximately 700 moose (as of 2019) located within the Adirondack Park, with many located on private industrial forest lands in the northern and western portions of the Park.
DEC partnered with researchers at the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), and Native Range Capture Services to safely capture, collar, and collect biometric data on the sample moose.
The GPS collars provide location data and information on moose activity patterns, movements, and mortality. Previous moose research in the Adirondacks has helped researchers better understand adult moose survival and reproduction, but little is known about calf survival and dispersal in New York.
By collaring calves and monitoring their survival to adulthood, biologists will be able to investigate factors limiting moose population growth, such as the effects of parasites on juvenile moose survival. These parasites, including winter ticks, brain worm, and giant liver fluke, and their associated diseases have increasingly become a management concern in the northeast and elsewhere.
Moose have been present in Northern New York since the Pleistocene. However, by as early as the 1860s over-exploitation and habitat degradation had extirpated moose from all of New York State.
In response, a handful of small-scale moose restoration efforts were undertaken between 1870 and 1902, but none proved successful. Over the next 80 years there were periodic moose sightings, but none seemed to suggest an established population.
It wasn’t until 1986 that DEC staff documented a small population of resident moose in the Adirondacks that may have immigrated from Vermont, Massachusetts, or Quebec.
Read more about New York’s moose here.
Photo of moose recovery courtesy DEC.