It’s going on 30 years that I have been making frequent trips to the northern tip of New Hampshire to look for moose and other wildlife. Thirty years? Hard to believe.
I’ve seen a lot of changes in the Great North Woods over the decades, some positive and some negative. Granted, the trips have become less frequent lately, but I still try to make it up at least once a year.
A positive I have noticed is an increase in loon and bald eagle sightings. Both those species have bounced back from low population numbers and now seem to be doing much better. That is thanks in large part to groups like the Loon Preservation Committee, which Continue reading →
People come to the North Country for a lot of reasons: fishing, hunting, endless ATV and snowmobile trails, wildlife watching, etc. Those who are here wildlife watching (and I think I can speak for many people) have moose as their primary target. Unfortunately, the moose population throughout New England has declined dramatically over the last several years. Biologists blame most of the decline on winter ticks, which are thriving in the warmer winters and wreaking havoc on moose.
A fair number of moose remain, which is the good news, but the decline makes it that much harder to find them. Driving along Route 3 in Pittsburg, N.H., for instance, used to be a guarantee for moose sightings. Cars would line up in the evening around the salt licks and wait for the moose to show up. The salt licks are no longer and the remaining moose are scattered throughout the vast forest. It now takes a lot more skill, knowledge and luck to find a moose in northern New Hampshire. Mostly luck.
I was lucky and fortunate enough the other morning to find a moose — three moose, actually, as it was a cow with twin calves. I launched the canoe on a popular pond (fen, really) in Pittsburg, N.H, Monday morning, waited out a heavy rainfall under the cover of evergreens, relaunched after the rain, paddled around a corner and saw the three moose. They were the first moose I had seen in years and I stopped the canoe a good distance from them and admired the scene. I was beyond thrilled to see the moose, of course, but I was equally happy to see the twins. I hope they both grow up to be healthy adults and do not succumb to winter ticks like so many other moose. I hope they are a sign that things are turning around for New England’s moose population. That’s probably being naive, but I can always hope.
That’s been my only moose sighting on this trip north so far. I’ll keep searching.
With work pleading with employees to use vacation time and half (or more) of the country pretty sketchy at the moment, I did what I’ve been wanting to do for years: take another summer vacation to northern New England — specifically northern New Hampshire and the boreal forest.
The trip started in Errol on Lake Umbagog and now continues in Pittsburg, which borders Canada. Here are a few photos I’ve managed so far. More to come — of course.
The main target is moose. New England’s largest mammal, however, is having a rough go of it of late. Here’s why.
I would never turn down the opportunity to write a story about New England moose, even if the subject is a bit somber. So when The Keene Sentinel asked if I would do an update story on the moose’s decline, I happily obliged.
Moose are my favorite New England wildlife watching target. Unfortunately, winter ticks and brain worm are taking a heavy toll on moose throughout New England.