Date of Completion
Isaac M. Ortega, Robert M. Ricard
Field of Study
Master of Science
Eastern moose (Alces alces americana) populations have been increasing in New England over the past decade. Moose populations have the potential to generate human conflict due to their size, speed, nocturnal behavior, and seasonal mobility. As problems associated with increasing moose populations become more common, the need to develop management strategies that are both effective and acceptable to stakeholders becomes increasingly important. The potential for moose to continue to expand in southern New England and the long-term impacts they may have on Connecticut residents, is unclear. The overall purpose of this study was to assess how suitable Connecticut is for moose and respond by developing acceptable and effective strategies for managing future moose populations. Specific objectives were to: 1) determine landscape suitability for moose in Connecticut based on applications of a moose habitat suitability model with temperature constraints; 2) estimate number of moose based on public and hunter sightings; and 3) determine public and hunter attitudes about moose and moose management, and willingness of deer hunters to support various management efforts using mail surveys.
. Data for evaluating landscape suitability were obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Forest Inventory Database Online; and the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center Open Geospatial Consortium. Public and hunter sightings were obtained from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and used to develop population estimates, predict future population growth under various management scenarios, and to validate model outputs. Data on landowner and hunter experiences and opinions about moose were collected using mail surveys and surveys distributed at selected town halls.
Potential number of moose per square kilometer was greatly affected by amount of suitable habitat and ambient air temperatures which varied geographically. Encouraging aggressive forest management practices, such as clear-cutting and shelter wood cutting in northern Connecticut, would be beneficial for moose. Connecticut’s moose population was conservatively estimated at 73 in 2008. Although unlikely, the moose population potentially could grow exponentially in the next 20 years. If the moose population expands as predicted by the model, it would be valuable to establish a limited moose hunting season sooner rather than later to minimize potential human-moose conflicts. At present, the majority of landowners and hunters believe < 100 moose exist in Connecticut and most think the population is too low, but believe it is increasing. Support for hunting by landowners initially was low, but increased as potential concerns, especially related to moose-vehicle accidents increased. Support for hunting by hunters was high.
We expect a reduction in the public’s tolerance for moose given further conflicts. The need for increased public education, e.g. the role of lethal management to protect humans, and being proactive rather than reactive, will be critical for successful moose management in Connecticut. Most hunters were supportive of using moose hunting to control population growth, but would prefer restrictions on the harvest of cow moose and permit availability. Hunter insight was valuable from a management perspective for determining which geographic areas should be considered for hunting, timing and length of seasons, equitable hunter selection processes, and methods of hunting acceptable to hunters.
LaBonte, Andrew M., "An Assessment of Moose (Alces alces americana) and Moose Management in Connecticut" (2011). Master's Theses. 205.
John S. Barclay