Moose are out and about

After a couple weeks of steady sunshine and the consequent spring green-up, it’s no surprise that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has issued its annual warning, advising motorists to keep an eye out for moose in the state’s roadways.

Yes, folks, it’s that time again: Moose are out and about. And if you’re smart, you’ll take heed of the state’s warning, no matter how many times you’ve heard it.

Having had more than a few close encounters of the moose kind in my years driving Maine’s rural highways (and dirt roads), state officials don’t have to tell me twice: I’m a believer).

A moose stops by for a closer look in Rangeley, June 2012. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

The DIF&W, along with the Maine Department of Transportation, are pointing out that May and June are the months when motorists are most apt to run into a moose.

According to a DIF&W press release, there are a few reasons for that, including the timing of calving, warmer weather, and the presence of a winter’s worth of road salt on some roads.

The DIF&W says that cow moose give birth during May, and will consequently drive off the yearlings that were born the previous May, leaving those moose to their own devices for the first time.

Picture a group of college freshmen trying to figure out the world without mom and dad, and you’ll start to get the point.

“People should be careful all year, but May and June are definitely the high points for car-moose collisions,” Lee Kantar, the state’s moose biologist, said in the press release. “This is when you see immature moose wandering around, unsure of themselves. It’s not hard for them to get in trouble.”

Again … sounds like some college freshmen I’ve known … like me, years ago.

The DIF&W said almost 90 percent of car-moose crashes occur between dusk and dawn, when the moose are more apt to be moving around (and when they’re much tougher to spot.

The Maine DOT is telling motorists who see moose on the roadway to stop, stay in their cars, and give the moose time to amble away.

Among other suggestions: Reduce your speed. use high beams whenever possible. Wear a seat belt.


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.