Vermont has finally come to the realization that the moose are taking over the joint. They are allowing intrepid hunters to help stop the reign of terror the antlered have instituted on Vermont's highways. Last year alone 144 moose, a full gross, threw themselves into moving motor vehicles. The results were, predictably, gross. But Vermont is sending armed people into the woods to stem the invasion before more Fords fail to Dodge.
MONTPELIER, Vt. – State wildlife biologists are hoping an aggressive moose hunt this season will help cut in half the number of animals in the Northeast Kingdom where the population has far exceeded the ability of the land to provide for them and moose conflicts with people are increasing, officials say.
The season is off to a good start. After the first two days, the number of animals reported killed statewide exceeded the number taken during the same period last year by about 40 percent.
"The hunters seem pretty happy about that," said Forrest Hammond, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and a member of the state moose team. "We've had a lot of people come in and say they'd never even seen moose when they were young. Now there's a huntable population, they're just thrilled."
The goal of this year's moose hunt is to reduce the population in the Northeast Kingdom to its 1995 level, about half of what it is now, said Hammond.
There are an estimated 5,000 moose statewide.
While the goal in Essex, Caledonia and Orleans counties is to cut the moose population, in the rest of the state the goal is to maintain the current moose population or let it grow slightly, said Hammond.
The state issued a record 1,115 moose permits statewide for this year's two seasons. Biologists are hoping about 650 moose will be taken.
Moose have no natural predators and the largest source of moose mortality is hunting and collisions with motor vehicles, Hammond said. The first started tracking the number of moose killed in collisions with motor vehicles since 1980 when none were reported. Last year 144 moose were killed in collisions.
The moose invasion is also spreading to New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
(Jokes aside, moose are particularly dangerous on the highways. Because of their height and their relatively spindly legs, when a car hits them the moose is very likely to go through the windshield and into the laps of the occupants. 13 people died in Vermont last year as a result of Moose collisions.)