Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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NY: Conservation Council lobbies for moose hunt

Albany – Hunters in New York could have a new reason to head afield in the coming years if a state sportsmen's group has its way.

The New York State Conservation Council has been lobbying state legislators to start the process of creating a moose hunting season in New York.

Howie Cushing, the council's president, said he is confident bills will be introduced in both houses of the Legislature early next year that would allow for limited moose hunting in parts of New York.

The hunt would accomplish a number of goals – give hunters new opportunities, allow better management of the state's moose population and create a new revenue stream for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, he said.

"We want to give the department (DEC) the ability to manage moose," he said. "I think the timing is right in the Legislature. I think we have enough friends to get it done."

Cushing said the council envisions a lottery system for a moose permit similar to what New England states like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont do.

Hunters in those states pay a nonrefundable application fee for the right to enter a lottery for a permit, which creates a guaranteed stream of revenue that can be used for management of the moose herd.

The DEC believes the moose herd is 750 to 800 animals strong, though DEC Region 5 big-game biologist Ed Reed said the growth hasn't been as rapid as the agency thought it out would be.

Region 5 – which consists primarily of the Adirondacks – is home to most of the state's moose, and Reed said numbers in at least one wildlife management unit could support a hunt.

"It's something we'd like to see in the future," he said.

He said WMU 5C in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, particularly in the Upper Chateaugay Lake area, has the highest moose population in the state, and timber owners have begun voicing concerns about tree damage from moose.

Reed said WMU 5H in Hamilton County seems to have the next biggest moose population, but it's likely not to the point yet where a hunt was needed.

Cushing said the NYSCC would like to see the hunt start small, with 75 or so permits issued a year at first.

Culling the moose herd would help it, since it appears moose are "clustering" in certain areas of the northern and eastern portions of New York, he said.

He said that has allowed for disease to spread, and resulted in problems in the woods where malnourished moose eat bark off trees, which can kill trees.

Several moose die annually in vehicle collisions. A few others have been euthanized by DEC personnel after exhibiting signs of contracting brainworm, a neurological disease contracted from white-tailed deer.

At one time, DEC had a biologist (Al Hicks) who spent much of his time monitoring the state's moose numbers and the expansion of their range in New York. Hicks, who has since retired, later had his duties shifted to bats and the decline of that species due to "white nose" syndrome. Today, DEC's moose monitoring efforts are minimal due to staff shortages.

The moose season will be among the council's legislative priorities for 2012, along with a youth big-game bill that would allow 12-year-olds to hunt deer and bear with a firearm and the creation of a dove hunting season.

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