The moose are coming, the moose are coming 

Not by Fire but by Ice


Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs . . . and Why it Could Soon Kill Us


27 August 07


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The moose are coming, 
the moose are coming
This, and the following, are pictures of a 
moose that crashed through a car's windshield
near South River, Ontario.

When it comes to global warming, plants and animals may be smarter than people. 

Look at the moose.

When my book Not by Fire but by Ice first came out, I flew to Vermont (where I was born and raised) to do an author tour. I gave readings, did radio interviews, the kinds of things that authors do on author tours.

I enjoyed it, but something bothered me, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Every now and then I’d hear people talk about moose sightings. Someone had seen a moose, or someone’s cousin had run into a moose, that sort of thing.

I guess it didn’t register with me because during my early twenties I had lived in Alaska, where moose sightings were no big deal.

But a few months after the tour, it finally dawned on me. "Hey. I don’t remember any moose in Vermont when I was growing up."

I called my sister, who has lived in Vermont for more than 70 years.
"Do you remember any moose sightings when you were growing up, June?" She didn’t.

I called my uncle, who has lived in Vermont for 90 years. 
"Do you remember any moose sightings when you were growing up, Uncle John?" He didn’t.

In fact, Uncle John said that he couldn’t recall any moose sightings during his entire childhood, and  he considered his childhood to have been his first 75 years.

The VERY lucky woman driver
ended up with just a broken wrist
and needing a good bath.

Moose didn’t start coming into Vermont until the early 1980s, said Uncle John. Now they’re all over the place.

"Why do you think that is?" I asked.

"That’s easy," said Uncle John. "It’s because it’s getting colder. Moose like cold weather, you know. They have long legs, which makes it easy for them to walk through the snow."

But a few doubters might consider my talks with Uncle John as not being overly scientific.

So I called the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. They put me in touch with a moose technician—Paul Hamelin—in St. Johnsbury.

St. Johnsbury is in the northeastern part of Vermont where most of the moose sightings had been made, so it’s a good place for a moose technician to do whatever it is that moose technicians do.

Mr. Hamelin and I talked for a long time. Before 1980, he said, moose sightings in Vermont were extremely rare. The first collision between a moose and an auto was reported in 1981. Since then, the number has skyrocketed.

Two hundred moose/auto collisions were reported in 1997 - in just one year! - with 130 of the moose actually killed (which means that it’s not the same moose that’s been creating the problem.)

As of that conversation, almost 1,000 moose had been killed in moose/auto collisions in Vermont since 1981, and it wouldn’t surprise me if another thousand have been killed since then. In addition, many people have been injured and several have died as a result of the collisions.

There are now so many moose in Vermont, said Hamelin, that they’ve begun moving even farther south into Massachusetts, and west into New York.

My immediate assumption was that, just as Uncle John had said, the moose are moving south because it’s getting colder in the north.

But Hamelin believed the moose were moving south because Vermont is now more forested than it was a hundred years ago - more than twice as forested, as a matter of fact.

Hmmm. I thought Americans were causing global warming because we’ve been cutting down all the trees. Now I learn that Vermont is twice as forested as it was a hundred years ago.

Hmmm. Maybe Americans aren't quite as bad as the Gorons would have us believe.

You wonder how the woman managed to survive.



Order Book I Q & A I Book Reviews I Plant Hardiness Zone Maps I Radio Interviews I Table of Contents I Excerpts I Author Photo I Pacemaker of the Ice Ages I Extent of Previous Glaciation I Crane Buried in Antarctic Ice Sheet I Ice Ages and Magnetic Reversals I It's Ocean Warming I E-Mail Robert at l Expanding Glaciers