New England Moose Research
Over the past 200 years as Massachusetts has become increasingly populated, human distribution, land cover, and wildlife habitats have become more heterogeneous. Statewide, forest area peaked in the 1980s, and forests continue to mature with harvesting at moderate intensity. Development, suburban fragmentation, and landscape degradation continue, particularly in eastern Massachusetts. Meanwhile social attitudes towards wildlife are shifting toward conservation and preservation, particularly through open-space acquisition and protection. As a consequence of historical changes in land use, land cover, and human attitudes, there has been a remarkable change in the abundance and distribution of wildlife within the state including the re-appearance of moose (Alces alces), a species extirpated from the state in the early 1700s.
The increase in the Massachusetts moose population in recent decades has lead to interest and concern about the interaction between forestry and moose. Moose can have landscape level effects on vegetation and it is unclear what their impact will be on forest dynamics (i.e., composition, structure, and regeneration) and timber assets in Massachusetts. Along with forest conservation, managing wildlife has become a critical component in the state’s ability to conserve and preserve its unique flora and fauna. Moose are a species of particular interest because of their abilities to affect forest stand regeneration and composition, and their presence is indicative of successful forest regeneration and management.