Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wattles, D., and S. DeStefano. 2011. Status and management of moose in the northeastern United States. Alces 47:53-68.


Moose (Alces alces) populations have been re-established in much of the historic range in the northeastern United States. Recently the southern edge of the range has been extended southward into southern New England and northern New York from established populations in northern New England. Moose populations are now well established in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and continue to expand in New York. This southerly range expansion in the Northeast has taken place when moose populations elsewhere along the southern edge of their range are in decline, with climate change being cited as a prominent cause. The forests of New England transition from northern forest types dominated by spruce (Picea spp.), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), beech (Fagus grandifolia), birch (Betula spp.), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and maple (Acer spp.), where moose are common, to transitional hardwood forests increasingly dominated by oak (Quercus spp.) and white pine (Pinus strobus), where little is known about moose habitat requirements. The habitat moose have recently occupied in the Northeast is also some of the most densely populated by humans anywhere in moose range, which has raised concerns over human safety and the threat posed by moose-vehicle collisions. In light of these recent developments, we conducted a literature search on moose in the northeastern United States and distributed a questionnaire and conducted phone interviews with biologists responsible for moose management across the region to determine the status of moose in the northeast, what management activities are taking place, and what research is needed to fill the knowledge gaps regarding moose in New England and New York. Moose numbers have stabilized throughout much of the region, with continued population growth in northern New York. Management activities range from regulated harvest of moose in the 3 northern New England states, to no active management in southern New England and New York. In Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, >3,000 moose are harvested every fall. Moose-vehicle collisions are a concern across the region, with >1,000 occurring annually, including several human fatalities. Increased information on demographics, specifically the roles that parasitism by winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) and brain-worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis) play in mortality, is greatly desired. In general moose appear to be thriving in the Northeast despite continued concerns with high temperatures and incompatibility with high human populations.