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New Adirondack moose research project underway

New Adirondack moose research project underway

By New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

A new moose research project is in progress in the Adirondack region. This winter, 14 moose were fitted with GPS collars as part of a multi-year project assessing moose health and population. Data collected from the collars will guide research on moose population, health, mortality and dispersal.

To safely capture, collar and monitor these animals, DEC has 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.

"New York's storied moose population, which began its recovery in the 1980s, is a critical part of our state's biodiversity," according to Commissioner Basil Seggos.

Additional moose will be equipped with GPS collars in years to come to provide location data and information on moose activity patterns, movements and mortality. Data collected during the research will contribute to management of moose in New York.

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.

Parasites, including winter ticks, brain worm, giant liver fluke and their associated diseases have increasingly become a management concern in the northeast and elsewhere. For example, winter tick infestations can be a major cause of moose mortality, particularly with calves.

"The moose population in New York is at the southern edge of their range in the United States and has not grown as expected since moose recolonized the state in the 1980s," said Angela Fuller, Cornell University professor and U.S.G.S. New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit leader.

"We have a fantastic collaborative research team focused on unraveling the complex factors that could be limiting moose population growth,” Fuller said. “Information from the GPS-collared moose calves, paired with data collected on parasites and predators of calves will allow us to better understand threats to survival and moose health."

"Moose health is a critical issue across many moose populations, including the Adirondacks," said Krysten Schuler, wildlife disease ecologist and co-director of the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab. "Through previous work, we identified emerging health issues and are excited to test hypotheses about the influence of parasites on juvenile moose survival."

The project also includes sampling white-tailed deer pellets and water sources to detect and better understand the prevalence and distribution of brain worm and giant liver fluke across the landscape. Larvae from these parasites are found in deer scat, where they are picked up by snails and then incidentally consumed by moose as they forage on plants.

Biologists also deployed trail cameras this past fall to determine range overlap between deer and moose, and monitor hair loss on moose infested with winter ticks.

For additional information about moose biology, current research, or to report moose sightings, visit DEC's website, click here.

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