Moose: They’re on the Loose
in Northern New England
Make Sure You Stay Safe!
by Marcia Passos Duffy

There are approximately 40,000 moose living in Maine, New Hampshire and
Vermont.  While it is always an awesome sight to see moose, they are
extremely hazardous if they happen to lumber onto the highway onto the path
of your oncoming vehicle.  

These massive animals can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds when they are fully
grown (and stand about 6-7 feet tall) and will do extensive damage to your car
–- and everyone in it –- should you happen to hit one going full speed.

One reason is that they are so
dangerous for drivers (and often
are not seen on the road, especially
at night) is that their legs are very
long -- about four-feet tall.  Some
people who report hitting a moose
think for a moment before impact
that there are trees in the middle
of road, and realize (too late) that
those “trees” are actually the
moose’s four legs!

Drivers can’t rely on any reflective quality to a moose’s coats or eyes -- their
coats tend not to reflect a car’s headlights – and their eyes are too high up to
catch any light to reflect back.  

Moose are also unafraid of headlights and unlike deer, won’t run from an
approaching vehicle, even if you honk the horn because moose rarely respond
to danger by fleeing, but prefer to stand their ground -- even in the face of a fast-
approaching vehicle. Moose behavior can be unpredictable as well.  A moose
can be calmly standing by the side of the road and abruptly dart out.  

What makes hitting a moose particularly lethal is what happens on impact:  
When a car hits a moose, it usually strikes the moose’s legs, sending that whole
1000 pound weight (about half the weight of an average-sized car) onto the
windshield of a car.  It then can bounce onto the roof of the car, causing more
damage to the car and its occupants.

So how can you avoid moose collisions?  I don’t recommend you avoid driving
on our northern New England roads altogether (think of the beauty you’ll
miss!), but there are some points to keep in mind when driving through Maine,
New Hampshire or Vermont that can help you avoid a moose collision:

Moose collisions happen most often between the months of May through
November. Breeding season in between mid-September and mid-October.

While collisions happen at all times of the day and night, most collisions
happen at dusk and during the night.

Moose are dark brown and hard to see against pavement.

Don't depend on "eye shine" to alert you to a moose's presence -- moose eyes
are too high up to reflect your headlights like a deers'.

Drive no faster than 55 mph, and wear your seatbelt.

Scan the sides of the road and stay alert.

Be able to stop within the zone of your headlights.

Use high beams whenever possible.

If you see a moose, slow down, or stop if necessary, until you have passed it
or it has left the road.   

Remember: Brake for Moose ... It Can Save Your Life (as those bumper
stickers say!)

For more information about moose (and to hear what a moose sounds like –
hint: it’s not musical or pretty!) go to:
Go Moose!

About the author: Marcia Passos Duffy is the publisher and editor of The Heart
of New England online magazine.
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