(Host) Commentator Willem Lange is delighted that moose are returning to New England. But he admits that sometimes it makes driving at night a little more dangerous.
(Lange) When we moved to the Connecticut Valley in 1968, New England’s moose were all but extinct. Now they’re everywhere! They winter on the mountainsides, and in the springtime move down to the wetlands. In the fall, yearning for romance, they sometimes wander right through our downtown area. A big bull trotted past one of our remodeling jobs one day during coffee break. A few years ago another young bull famously spent the rutting season courting a heifer in Vermont. Just this week a heavy-antlered bull attracted a crowd of gawkers right here in Etna.
Moose are a symbol of the North and the largest and dumbest of the deer family. So their appearance on New Hampshire license plates sends a somewhat mixed message.
Newt Gingrich once came to New Hampshire to see former Governor Thomson and, he hoped, a moose. After a meeting with the governor, he headed north, where the road pavement is scarred with black rubber burns left by drivers dodging deer and moose.
Wearing a red flannel shirt and looking like Lamar Alexander, Newt got photographed with a moose. Then, brimming with backwoods bonhomie, he headed south with his entourage. He stopped beside the Androscoggin River to chat with a fly fisherman, who was not a fan of his. After that, Newt became less vocal. He allowed that in New England, the less said, the better.
Moose are proliferating in New England. Each year there are dozens of moose-vehicle collisions, or MVCs. They’re more often lethal than deer-vehicle collisions. A deer is 150 pounds smashing in your headlights; a moose can be half a ton coming through the windshield.
The coat of a moose is darker than that of a deer. It’s virtually invisible at night. It may start to run away and suddenly turn toward you. My wife and I have stopped our car to let moose step aside, only to have ’em trot right down the road ahead of us, once for a couple of miles.
These gentle giants hang around roads because they crave road salt, relief from flies, and the tender plants along the right of way. By the time you see them at sixty, it’s too late. The only solution is to drive much more slowly than you wish you could.
Following a narrow trail through a swamp during deer season, I once came face-to-face with a really big bull, whose antlers stuck into the brush on either side. Neither of us seemed to know what to do. So I stepped into the swamp and watched him plod regally past with never a backward glance. There! he seemed to be saying. Now we both have wet feet.
This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.
Willem Lange is a contractor, writer, and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire. He spoke to us from our studio in Norwich.