Moose crossings increase during foliage season

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(Host) Peak foliage season coincides with moose breeding season in Vermont.

During the season, moose are more likely to be crossing the roads.

And that can cause a problem for drivers.

VPR’s Amy Noyes has more:

(Highway sounds)

(Noyes) Route 12, between Worcester and Elmore, is prime moose habitat. The road through Worcester Woods runs through shallow wetlands.

There have been dozens of car-moose accidents here in recent years, including one human fatality. Most of the accidents occurred at night, when the moose seem to step right out of the shadows.

Representative Warren Miller, of Elmore, commutes through Worcester Woods when working at the statehouse. He often encounters moose on his way home from late committee meetings.

(Miller) “Coming home from Montpelier late at night, when I travel Route 12, I travel very slowly because if you out-drive your headlights you may see one of those big, hairy creatures and they’re so tall that they’re hard to see. Their eyes don’t reflect and they’re very difficult to see.”

(Noyes) Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials have issued defensive driving tips to help motorists avoid hitting moose.

Drivers should be on high alert in areas posted with moose crossing signs; reduce speed and be aware of roadside activity. Because of their dark color, moose are difficult to see at night, when they are most active.

Officials say if you see a moose ahead, slow down or stop until the animal moves out of the way. Representative Miller says the best policy is to let the moose take the lead.

(Miller) “When I came home from legislature this year – some of our late night sessions – I would travel 35, 40 miles per hour because every night I’d see a moose. And it was: come around a corner and there’s a big cow moose in the road, so travel behind her until she’s left the road and then travel on my way.”

(Noyes) Statistics show moose were once nearly eliminated from Vermont. They started making a comeback in the 1980s.

It’s estimated there are over 5,000 moose in the state today. When moose season opens this month, more than 1,100 hunters will blanket the state.

Both moose hunters and moose watchers frequent the Moose Horn Caf , in East Hardwick. Hardwick resident Frank Cady has noticed how, unlike deer, moose aren’t afraid of people or cars.

(Frank Cady) “They don’t get too excited. If they see a car coming, they don’t get out of the road like a deer. They just take their time.”

(Noyes) Frank’s son Eric says moose watchers can sometimes pose a problem – like the people he saw recently who had stopped their cars on a busy highway.

(Eric Cady) “By the interstate there was a couple people pulled off. Like, this is great, just pull right over and look at the moose and take pictures of them. They’re right on the interstate.”

(Noyes) Officials say the best advice is to use caution. Moose are big animals and can weigh more than 1,000 lbs.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Amy Noyes.

(Host) Those 1,100 hunters will be arriving in Vermont when moose season opens on October 21st.

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