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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Moose harvest lagging at mid-season

Barry Adams of Lyndonville hunting with his father, Dave, shot this 442-pound cow in Wheelock Monday morning.  Photo courtesy of Cedric Alexander

Barry Adams of Lyndonville hunting with his father, Dave, shot this 442-pound cow in Wheelock Monday morning. Photo courtesy of Cedric Alexander

by Paul Lefebvre

BARTON — Halfway through the 2013 season and the moose harvest is running about 40 percent behind last year’s figures at this time, according to biologist Cedric Alexander of the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department.

Early estimates suggest that 115 moose had been taken as of Monday night, said Mr. Alexander, the department’s moose biologist who was at the Barton reporting station Tuesday.

Mr. Alexander attributed the trailing harvest to a reduction in permits — about 30 fewer than were issued a year ago.

A hunter not included in the mid-season report was Chris Manges of West Burke, who shot a 622-pound cow Tuesday in Craftsbury.

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