The Moose are coming… the Moose are coming…. right into New York

By Peter Muller, Vice President of C.A.S.H., Chair of the League of Humane Voters/NY,

An announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) earlier this year caught our eye when we just casually glanced at it.  It was a draft notice about the DEC’s list of the “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN):

Just giving the top of this list a casual “once-over,” I ask you, “Which animal seems out of place?”

We were astounded to see “Moose” listed as an animal that is “experiencing a population decline” … adding that it “needs conservation actions to maintain a stable population level to sustain recovery.”

The DEC, through its Bureau of Wildlife (BOW), is single-mindedly focused on increasing “hunting opportunities” and thereby license sales to increase its cut of the federal Pittman-Robertson subsidy, which amounted to 1.1 billion dollars in 2015. This fund, which is based on an excise tax on all firearms and ammunition, is distributed to the states according to a formula in which hunting license sales are a major factor. New York State’s piece of the pie this year was about $29 million. Our immediate suspicion was “Get set, here comes the rationalization for a moose hunting season.”

Moose had been totally removed from New York State by 1870 through unregulated hunting and forest clearing for agriculture. In time, due to reforestation of abandoned farms, the moose population reestablished itself in the north-eastern parts of the United States. Since the 1980s there were occasional sightings of a moose in northern New York State in the regions bordering on Quebec, Ontario and Vermont, which were so unusual that they usually made newspaper headlines. By 1990 the New York State population of moose was estimated at 20 animals. It wasn’t until the 1998 that a small breeding population of moose was considered to have established itself in New York State.

That population has grown steadily. According NYDEC estimates, the population was at 300-500 animals by 2008. The 2010 population by the DEC was estimated at 500 to 800 animals

There has been increased concern about moose-vehicle collisions especially into the I-90 corridor, which is the major highway in northern New York. In the northern United States there have been over 1,000 Moose car collisions resulting in over 50 human fatalities.

Moose are most active from dusk to dawn, when their coloration makes them difficult to see in the roadway and their eyes are usually above the reach of car headlights. Moose are so tall that an automobile usually passes under the body, causing the moose to come over the hood into the windshield and onto the roof.

When compared to deer/car collisions moose/car collisions are about 500 times more likely to result in a human fatality.

In response to the small, allegedly “self-introduced” moose population, the DEC instituted a number of actions: they monitor the species’ progress; they post signs warning of moose presence; they occasionally relocate a moose who becomes a nuisance; or catch and move moose from developed areas where they are a danger to themselves or people.

But for those of us who are familiar with the DEC’s love for blood money – it would seem to be like “waiting for the other shoe to drop” at which time a moose hunting season will be declared. Even now, the DEC has made a limited number of high-priced licenses available through a lottery system. It is trophy hunting at its best.

The real answer to why an outright hunting season has not happened is that the DEC cannot promulgate a hunting season on moose because moose are a protected species under New York State law not by a DEC regulation (which the DEC could simply change at will.) It would take an act of the New York State legislature to permit hunting of moose in New York.

Is that likely to happen? In the last legislative session there was such an attempt by Senator Patrick Gallivan from Senate district 59 (just East of Buffalo). He introduced Senate Bill S93which would allow the DEC to set a hunting season for moose. That bill did pass the state Senate.  The corresponding Assembly bill, A3742, sponsored by Assembly member David DiPietro from Assembly District 147 (roughly in the same area as Gallivan’s senate district.) failed to make it out of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

So, we can see some resistance by state legislators to simply sign off to such a request, but we still need to encourage legislative opposition in order to reign in the excesses of the New York State DEC. The reason we don’t have moose hunting in New York is the representatives of the people will not allow it – not withstanding the wishes of the DEC.

Clearly, it’s important to stay in touch with the bills and politics within any state. C.A.S.H. encourages you to contact the League of Humane Voters by going to and finding a chapter to join or consider forming a chapter in a state without one!


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561