Last week, residents of Dannemora were excited to learn of a large moose feeding from a bird feeder in the side yard of a local residence on the General Leroy Manor Road.
In the heat of the day, as temperatures topped the 90-degree mark, a large crowd of on-lookers gathered along the highway while attempting to get a glimpse of the massive animal.
The numerous cars parked along the roadside soon drew the attention of the state police, who dispersed the crowd of spectators.
The moose apparently appeared to be in distress and when it later collapsed, troopers called the Department of Environmental Conservation.
A state DEC wildlife biologist responding to the scene found a yearling moose that was believed to have died from heat stroke.
Upon examination, the biologist reported the young, bull moose had an internal body cavity temperature of 107 degrees. It was believed to have died of heat stroke, which typically sets in when body temperatures reach 104 degrees.
Moose are a circumpolar, boreal species. They are typically found in the cooler climates of boreal forest areas across the Northern Hemisphere.
While they thrive in such cold weather environments, moose are easily stressed by overheating, and by other factors such as predators, or the prying eyes of spectators.
They don't do well in situations where there is a combination of high heat and humidity. In such conditions, they prefer spending time in water.
However, it wasn't heat that did him last week. The necropsy performed by DEC revealed the true cause of death was brain worm, a neurological disease commonly transmitted by white-tailed deer.
By DEC estimates, there are currently between 500 to 600 moose in the state. Brainworm is a major concern, according to DEC wildlife biologist Ed Reed, who explained, "Brainworm is still a problem. That's probably why the moose in Dannemora was still wandering around in the heat. We've been seeing problems with brain worm primarily in areas with high deer densities such as Rensselaer and Washington counties, where the deer density is greater than 8-10 animals per square mile. "
"Deer have brain worm but it doesn't affect them as it does moose. Deer pass the nematode in their feces, where it is picked up by snails, which act as a host", Reed revealed, "And they [snails] deposit it on the leaves and grass."
Moose, which are primarily browsing animals that eat the leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees.
It is easy to see how the animals can contract brain worm, which frequently causes cerebrospinal nematodiasis, a disease of the nervous system, that often, results in death. They can consume nearly 40-60 pounds of browse every day.
Fortunately for moose, the deer density in the Adirondacks ranks among the lowest in the entire state. It is one of the major factors responsible for their return and ultimate survival. In fact, the moose that died in Dannemora may not have been a local resident, since the animals are known to travel great distances.
The animal's tendency to range far and wide has created additional problems. Due to their propensity to travel, a moose could be in Washington County one week and in Clinton County by the next. This ranginess is also responsible for the ever growing danger of vehicle/moose collisions.
This is some good news for people that happen to experience a close encounter with a moose while driving, as the New York State Legislature has amended section 11-0915 of the Environmental Conservation Law concerning the disposition of moose carcasses resulting from vehicle collisions.
The revised amendment now allows people who accidentally kill a moose and damage their motor vehicle, to obtain a permit that allow them to keep the carcass. While the measure offers little consolation for wrecking their car, a large quantity of moose steaks and burgers can certainly serve supplement the family budget while the car is undergoing repair.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.