Resident Moose Issue Looms
October 9, 2003

The natural establishment of a resident population of moose in a highly populated and mobile state such as Connecticut does pose a considerable public safety issue, which must be addressed by our professional wildlife managers. The DEP Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division deserves credit for considering this matter in its early stage. It is the responsible thing to do: a rational policy implemented early on may prevent needless social and environmental problems in the years to come as moose continue to expand their range and populate the state. The question we all must consider is what constitutes a rational management policy when considering the impact of an animal as large as a moose on the welfare of our society?

The simple answer is to take a statewide view of this issue, which the DEP seems inclined to do at this point. If we consider this view, we must acknowledge the many high-speed, multi-lane highways; and the very high volume of traffic crisscrossing the state on a daily basis. Connecticut is not a large state in physical size, and the chance of moose/vehicle encounters with potentially devastating results seems fairly high. From this perspective, a no tolerance position for the establishment of a resident moose population is being considered by DEP. Basically; a no tolerance position translates into elimination of all; or as many as possible, moose in Connecticut.

Besides the obvious public safety issue, there are other management demands that would arise if a resident moose population were allowed to develop anywhere in the state; not the least of which would be, addressing any nuisance complaints that may arise. This observation provides another reason why DEP seems inclined towards the statewide view. Simply put, budget and manpower constraints imposed by the legislature may be forcing the department to focus on this single view. A policy of intolerance and elimination would be far less costly; and easily implemented, simply by allowing deer hunters the option of taking a moose during the regular season. This is the policy that will place the least demand on agency resources.

Most sportsmen, who are aware of this issue and the position DEP seems to be favoring, are alarmed and concerned by the prospect of a policy of intolerance. To sportsmen/conservationists, a policy of intolerance is unacceptable. We advocate a regional approach to the management of our moose population. Our view is one derived from the principle of environmental quality through tolerance and diversity in our natural world, tempered by the realities of our social infrastructure, as it exists today.

We maintain that a small resident moose population could be managed in Northwest Connecticut. We believe the great majority of citizens residing in this part of the state would welcome the presence of moose, adding to our wildlife diversity. Route 8 is our only major highway corridor and it has very good sight lines along most of its length. We advocate a zone of moose tolerance bounded by or near, the Connecticut River in the east; and route 84 to the south. We suggest that our common borders with Massachusetts to the north, and New York to the west, are inconsequential when considering moose and see these areas as natural extensions of the tolerated moose region.

We cannot speak authoritatively for the other regions of the state, but in Northwest Connecticut we believe the moose provide benefits to our region that far outweigh any negative impact. Tourism, for example, will be enhanced by the opportunity to view these animals. And should control prove necessary, it will add substantial revenue to the state as it has in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Sportsmen would provide the means to control any overabundance of moose that may develop in the future. The few moose now resident in this area have posed no major problem. DEP should recognize this fact and base its initial management plans on the regional model, allowing tolerance and management in appropriate areas.

DEP will not ignore citizen comment on this issue. However, comment needs to be made now, before a final policy recommendation is adopted. Experience teaches that once the agency finalizes a policy proposal, it is very difficult to reopen the door to changes.

Letters addressing public opinion regarding the moose issue will be most effective if addressed to:

DEP Deputy Commissioner - David Leff or
Bureau of Natural Resources Chief - Edward C. Parker or
Wildlife Division Director - Dale May.

The common address for each is:

79 Elm St.
Hartford, CT 06106-5127





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