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Moose population drops well below target level

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copyright the Chronicle August 2, 2017


by Joseph Gresser


CRAFTSBURY — The number of moose in Vermont has dropped well below the target set by wildlife biologists, and the road to recovery is unclear. That was the grim news offered to the 50 people who showed up at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center on July 27 for the most recent in a series of lectures about the northern forest.

Biologist Cedric Alexander, who leads the moose project for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, retold the recent history of the largest member of the cervid family, a group that includes deer, elk, and reindeer.

Unlike their more familiar and numerous cousins, the white tail deer, moose are creatures of the forest, Mr. Alexander said. While deer can thrive on a landscape that is as much as 50 percent open land, a moose needs trees to survive.

When European settlers arrived in Vermont they quickly cleared the state’s forests for lumber and to create fields in which to graze sheep. The moose retreated north where conditions were more to their liking.

They find their food in the woods, dining on young trees in the summer and such food as they can find in winter.

Moose are hearty eaters consuming about 3 percent of their body weight each day.

A 1,000-pound cow can consume up to 100 pounds of green food each day, about equivalent to 30 pounds of dry weight, Mr. Alexander said.

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