Are There Moose in New York?

Cow Moose with calf

Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family in the world. They’re also the second largest land mammal in North America. To most people, these big cervids symbolize the northern wild country. You might be asking yourself if there are any moose in the state of New York’s wild country.

I have the answer. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, as of 2022, the state of New York’s moose population was between 550 and 900 animals. Most of these reside in Adirondack Park, which roughly includes the entirety of the Adirondack Mountains and the Taconic Highlands along the border of the Hudson valley to the west and the Vermont and Massachusetts borders to the east. See However, there was a period of time, between the 1860s and the 1980s when moose were extirpated from what was their native range within New York state.

Moose began returning to New York in the 1980s

Moose are native to the state, especially upstate New York, and were common in areas with a mixture of cover, adequate browse such as willows, the buds of trees, and aquatic plants. However, after the time of European colonization, the moose population in New York diminished.

This was due to unregulated overhunting and habitat degradation. New York moose became extirpated from the state in the 1860s, just as they were from much of the northeastern United States, with the exception of Maine.

Moose began showing up in the Adirondack Mountains from neighboring states in the 1980s. By this time, much of the land in the area that was once taken up by farms had reverted back to its native state. Also, timbering practices were less damaging to the landscape than they were in the 19th century.

All of this made for improved moose habitat, which beckoned the moose to return.

Today, areas such as Meacham Lake, Saranac Lake, Lake Lila, and the Moose River Plains are all part of the list of the best places to see moose in the Adirondacks. See

Bull Moose
Bull Moose

Factors that limit New York’s moose population

There is no legal moose hunting in New York. They are a protected species within the state. However, there are still some limiting factors to further population growth. They are as follows.

Predators: In New York, black bears are significant predators of moose calves that are less than nine weeks old. Coyotes also occasionally prey on moose calves. Adult moose in New York State, don’t have any predators. However, in other parts of North America, wolves are their main predator. Mountain lions also occasionally kill adult moose in areas where the two species’ range overlaps.

Parasites: Moose are very susceptible to a parasite which is carried by white-tailed deer called “Parelaphostrongylus tenuis“. This parasite’s common name is brain worm. In moose, brain worms infect the central nervous system and usually cause death.

Moose are also vulnerable to other parasites, such as giant liver fluke and lungworms which weaken the animal and make it susceptible to secondary infections.

In states with a denser moose population, winter ticks are a chief cause of mortality in moose. These ticks spend three life cycles on an individual animal, feeding on its blood. Fortunately, winter ticks have not yet been observed in New York.

Vehicle Collisions: Vehicle collisions are a significant mortality factor for moose, especially where road densities are high. Moose are so tall that an automobile usually passes under the body, causing the moose to come over the hood into the windshield and onto the roof.

Moose are most active from dusk to dawn when their coloration makes them difficult to see in the roadway, and their eyes are usually above the reach of car headlights. About one to two percent of moose/car collisions result in a human fatality. DEC is working with the Department of Transportation to develop warning methods for motorists in moose country. Research in other states has shown that vehicle speed is the most common factor leading to moose collisions, so the best way to avoid hitting a moose is to slow down, especially from dusk to dawn.

Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack Mountains

The Adirondack moose study

The Adirondack moose study is being conducted by wildlife biologists from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Cornell University Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the Biodiversity Research Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society Adirondack Program.

The study is a multi-year research project on the status of New York State’s moose population, and the factors that influence moose survival and reproductive rate within the state.

The mission of the Adirondack moose study is to compile data to be implemented in a moose management plan for the state of New York.

As part of the study, Adirondack moose were captured in 2015, 2016, and 2017 and fitted with GPS collars. See

The collared moose are being remotely tracked and monitored for calf production and survival. Researchers are also tracking the collared moose to gain insight into their diet. Additionally, they’ve been sampling the vegetation across Adirondack Park to assess its nutritional value.

In the wintertime, researchers fly grids over the Adirondacks to survey for moose.

Finally, during the summers of 2016 and 2017, researchers used trained dogs to locate and collect moose droppings to provide data into the moose diet and health and through DNA analysis, generate a population estimate.

The New York State DEC and its research partners are also seeking information from the public regarding moose sightings. If you have seen a moose, in New York state, they ask you to fill out an online form. You will find a moose sighting report form here.

Bull Moose
Bull Moose

A new moose research project in the Adirondacks

A new moose research project in the Adirondacks is being undertaken by the NYS DEC, in conjunction with the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

The aim of the project is to better understand the limiting factors of the moose population in Adirondack Park.

Where previous studies focused on adults, this time, researchers are capturing juvenile moose and fitting them with GPS collars.

In the winter of 2022-2023, researchers have already fitted 14 animals with GPS collars. They plan to expand this number in the coming years.

The plan is to monitor these juvenile moose as they transition into adulthood. In doing this, the hope is to identify which factors are limiting the expansion of the moose population in upstate NY. Brain worms are one of the likely culprits.

As stated earlier, white-tailed deer have a strong immunity to the neurological effects of brain worms. However, they act as carriers of this parasite, spreading its larvae in their droppings.

In moose, however, the neurological effects of the brain worm parasite are often lethal. Infected animals die from paralysis or the inability to eat. Brain worm-infected moose sometimes display a total lack of fear of humans. These animals have a greater propensity to wander in front of traffic or into people’s yards. Wildlife officers often have to destroy them because they pose a danger to the public. See

Researchers plan to explore the link between white-tailed deer populations and moose mortality in northern New York. They’ll do this by collecting and analyzing deer pellets and monitoring water sources that both deer and moose utilize.

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