May 9, 2009

Will there be a moose season for New York?

A resolution has been sent to the New York State Conservation Council requesting that not only a moose hunting season be an option for the Department of Environmental Conservation, but a lottery system for permits be considered.

The Onondaga County Federation of Sportsman's Clubs is the sponsor, and they base their rationale on the New York moose population being more than 500 and an increase in auto-moose collisions, among other things.

The key is that there is no scientific evidence to support their proposal now.

Probably the only good reason to consider a moose hunt at all is so DEC can have some avenue to control moose numbers, if and when they get to the point of saturation. Other than that, most of the logic is faulty, and here's why.

For one, neither DEC nor anyone else knows how many moose are roaming New York. If you live in the Standish-Lyon Mountain area on the Clinton-Franklin County line, you might think there are a lot of moose around, but in Onondaga County you might never see one.

There have been no scientific-based studies so far that can come close to approximating the moose population. If there were, they would have included data from grid-based fly-overs, ground work and precise auto-moose collision data. Even then, there would be a margin of error, but at least it would be some basis to go by.

I remember five years ago writing that there were a guesstimated 500 moose in New York, a figure I thought reasonable because there seemed to be more than 300, the DEC projection at the time, and less than 1,000. The 500 had no basis in science, yet the number took hold. What makes counting difficult is that the Adirondacks and Tug Hill are larger than the entire state of Vermont.

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