May 30, 2008

Friday scatblogging — moose scat in New York

Moose are gaining population in New York, but how much? How well are they doing? Will global warming cause a population explosion or decline?

Moose scat can help answer these questions.
To better understand their lifestyle and behavior, the Wildlife Conservation Society sent specially trained dogs into the piney woods here recently, not in search of actual moose, but their scat, or excrement. One morning this month, Camas, a German shepherd who had traveled from Montana for the mission, traversed the dense wilderness around Moose Pond. The forest floor was just springing to life, with wood sorrel and striped maple saplings pushing up through dead leaves and ferns unfurling.

But in a sign of moose elusiveness, Camas found the scat of black bear and ruffed grouse but nothing redolent of moose, even though there had been recent sightings in the area. (The day before, a colleague of Camas had more luck, sniffing out nine discrete examples of moose scat; the conservationists organized 20 such outings between May 12 and May 25, in a program financed in part by the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, popularly known as the Wild Center, in nearby Tupper Lake.)

Predictions? State wildlife biologist Chuck Dente predicts a doubling in population. But, he notes global warming could increase a brain worm in moose.

Read the full story for more on the present and future of moose in New York’s Adirondacks.

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