Moose, deer breeding season a danger for drivers

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Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Wildlife Division is reminding motorists to be watchful of increased deer and moose activity this fall, especially during early morning and evening hours.

September through October is the peak of the breeding season for Connecticut’s small but expanding moose population in the northern part of the state, DEEP says.

The breeding season (also known as “the rut”) for white-tailed deer closely follows the moose breeding season, running from late October through late December.

Moose venturing into southwestern Connecticut, with high population density, road networks, and traffic volumes, pose an increased potential for human fatalities from accidents as compared to deer-vehicle accidents.

A moose caused a stir in New Milford on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 when it walked in the parking lot of New Milford Hospital around 7:30 a.m. Police stopped traffic to allow it safe passage to nearby woods.

A moose caused a stir in New Milford on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 when it walked in the parking lot of New Milford Hospital around 7:30 a.m. Police stopped traffic to allow it safe passage to nearby woods.

In a release, DEEP says, “Be aware and heed “Deer Crossing” signs erected by highway departments. Motorists are advised to slow down and drive defensively should a deer or moose be spotted on or by the road. Because moose are darker in color and stand much higher than deer, observing reflective eye-shine from headlights is infrequent and, when struck, moose often end up impacting the windshield of vehicles.

All moose and deer vehicle collisions should be reported to local, state, or DEEP Environmental Conservation Police officers at 860-424-3333.

“During 2013, approximately 7,300 deer were killed in the state due to collisions with vehicles,” said Rick Jacobson, Director of the DEEP Wildlife Division.

“A total of 25 moose-vehicle accidents have been reported in Connecticut between 1995 and 2014, with an average of two per year since 2002,” continued Jacobson. “Moose-vehicle accidents are expected to increase as the moose population expands.”

Deer and moose have been spotted along such major highways like the Merritt/Wilbur Cross Parkway and I-84 in Danbury and Southbury.

In June 2007, a woman was seriously injured when her vehicle struck a moose on the Merritt Parkway in New Canaan.

In September 2009, there was a car collision with a moose in Danbury.

In May 2011, a solitary moose, seeking new territory, took off  from northwestern Connecticut and appeared to be wandering along the Interstate 84 corridor, with sightings reported in Waterbury, Southbury and Bethel. It was also spotted in Trumbull.

Most of Connecticut is not considered ideal habitat for moose because the state’s landscape is fragmented, roadways have high traffic volume, and moose have large home ranges (approximately 10-15 square miles).

Residents throughout the state are encouraged to report moose sightings on the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife.

To read more about Connecticut’s moose population, click HERE.

Jim Shay