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More Moose in New York? Reintroduction Is Debated

Upstate hunters, motorists give proposal mixed reviews

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DO New Yorkers want more moose in their lives?

Some do, and some don't. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is trying to decide whether or not to reintroduce the lumbering moose, often six feet tall just from hoof to shoulder, into upstate New York.

Moose roamed freely in the northern reaches of the state until the 1860s. Within the last decade or so, a few moose have wandered in from New England and Canada.

New York's moose population is now an estimated 15 to 30. The DEC is weighing whether or not to accelerate that natural migration by bringing in as many as 100 more moose by truck or helicopter.

Conservationists and sportsmen are enthusiastic.

The DEC has drafted a detailed environmental-impact statement and has held 15 informational meetings on the new proposal in various parts of the state during July and August.

Alan Hicks, a senior wildlife biologist with the DEC, says the department may make its moose decision as soon as this winter. Yet further efforts to tap a wider range of public opinion, possibly by poll, may come first, he says.

Public-education efforts clearly would be a vital part of any further DEC move. So far, public reaction to the DEC moose proposal has been mixed.

State officials say some of the skepticism evident at the public meetings is based on misperceptions. Many who voiced negative opinions, for instance, said they distrust the government's ability to do what officials say the government will do. One man said he didn't want a return of the moose because he'd never received the rebate owed him on his tax payment. Other speakers objected to the estimated $1.3 million cost of the program, on grounds that the state cannot afford it. Yet the DEC from the start s aid the cost would be met by voluntary contributions.

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