Recent aerial surveys by the state Department of Environmental Conservation show no signs of an Adirondack moose population explosion that was projected a few years ago.
"We really haven't seen a great increase in the time we've been doing these surveys," said DEC wildlife biologist Ed Reed.
There were two aerial surveys conducted this winter, on Jan. 26 and Feb. 9, concentrating on a roughly 77-square-mile area just south of Upper Chateaugay Lake. Much of that area is under a conservation easement. Chateaugay Woodlands LLC owns and actively logs the land there. Reed said the area has "probably the highest moose density in the state."
During the trips, DEC biologists spotted seven moose.
Reed cautioned that this year the survey was done in a small airplane, which flies faster and higher than the helicopters that are normally used during the survey, so some moose may have been missed. In the past, the survey was done in a state police helicopter. This year, the chopper wasn't available.
Reed also said the survey only captures a small snapshot of the moose population and that an intensive study of the population hasn't been done.
"Statistically, it's not even significant because we do so little square miles compared to the size of the Park, or the size of our moose range anyway," he said.
The DEC has been doing the aerial surveys since 2007. Around that time, DEC biologists speculated that the moose population was ready to increase significantly based on the growing number of sightings and car accidents.
Since then, the moose population has appeared to increase but hasn't really exploded like some said it might. The DEC estimates the population to be about 800 to 1,000 moose.
"From what we've seen, our roadkills haven't gone up," Reed said. "I'm not getting the sense that this population is taking off like you would have expected it to."
Reed said there could be reasons that population hasn't increased.
"Brain worm could be one of them. Climate change (is another,)" he said. "But again ... scientifically we really couldn't prove one way or the other if they are increasing or not."