Thursday, 3 April 2008

Moose Spotting in New Hampshire

March 26, 2008

By Stephen Weir

Toronto – A trained eye means everything. One New Hampshire moose, his velvet antlers skimming the surface of the water, didn’t even have to stop munching on water weeds and lift his massive head to spot the six humans standing on the opposite shore of the pristine lake. He tilted his head sideways and looked for the telltale reflection of dawn’s early light on the telephoto lens of a digital camera. “Gotcha” snorted the moose, “my first people spotting of the day.”
And while some of New Hampshire’s estimated 10,000 moose (no the plural isn’t meese) are avid people watchers, from May to October, the real sport is Moose Spotting and it is pursued by thousands and thousands of avid animal watchers wanting to get close to New Hampshire’s gentle giants.
Most of the moose live in the Great North Woods section of the state, near the Canadian border. It is in this region that people travel to see some of North America’s largest wild animals. So plentiful are the moose that some naturalists offering Moose Spotting Tours claim a 97% success rate in seeing an up-to 1,500 lb black/brown behemoth.
Outdoor Escapes, a Lakeport, New Hampshire outfitter offers a variety of Moose Spotting expeditions. Be it in a canoe, or on snowshoes, cross-country skis, mountain bikes or even in SUVs, the company’s naturalists help visitors hunt moose … with their cameras. The mountain tours (starting at $193) are 6-hours in length; if a moose isn’t spotted in that time frame the tours can be extended to 8-hours.
Other companies, like Mt. Madison Moose and Scenic Tours, offer daytime bus trips into moose country, so that visitors can experience the wilds from inside an air-conditioned bug-free motor coach! Moose are crepuscular creatures, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. One bus-based moose spotting tour company, Pemi Valley Excursion, specializes in affordable ($10 t0 $20 per person) evening expeditions from May until early October. Their buses make a 2 1/2 to 3 hour journey through the majestic White Mountains in search of the gentle giants.
The Appalachian Mountain Club offers a unique expert perspective on outdoor adventure in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to help take the guesswork out of encountering moose. The naturalist association provides free evening programs, including moose-spotting forays, stargazing, and nocturnal creatures walks offered daily at Highland Center at 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday nights at the Joe Dodge Lodge in the heart of the White Mountains.
Spring is the best time to take the moose tour as the critters are on the move, slogging through the woods and wetlands towards their summer dwellings. The animals are very active along country-roads and highways. You can see them at the roadside licking the remains of the road salt that has built up after a long winter. A motorist has a good chance of seeing moose at the roadside in the spring.
Best roadside bet? There is a stretch of Route 3 that runs from Pittsburg, New Hampshire, to the Canadian border that the locals call "Moose Alley". Tourists motoring through New England wanting to see moose find this scenic road the most reliable option.
Of course, moose on the loose can be spotted and photographed without having to join an organized tour group or by cruising up and down the back roads of New Hampshire. Experienced hikers and campers are almost guaranteed moose encounters when they visit some of New Hampshire’s 66 state parks. Despite its name, moose is the big attraction at Deer Mountain State Park. Located in Connecticut Lakes State Forest, Deer Mountain Campground is just five minutes south of the Canadian border and 13 miles from Lake Francis. It is adjacent to Moose Alley, which makes it a prime location for moose viewing.
In Mollidgewock State Park, the best way to spot moose is while canoeing or kayaking the Androscoggin River. The Androscoggin is a favourite of fishing enthusiasts and is popular for watching wading moose.

Visitors' Guides for wildlife areas from NH Natural Heritage Bureau

The N.H. Natural Heritage Bureau recently published four new guides as part of its ongoing Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity series. The guides can be downloaded for free from the Bureau's web site:
To find out more about New Hampshire or to receive a free visitor’s guide, call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH (386-4664) or visit Canadian travel trade and media may call 1-888-423-3995, or email

[ I wrote the above press-release for Toronto based Travel Marketing Experts. It was subsequently picked up by Canadian Press, edited and distributed across Canada - what follows is the CP version of my release].

Canadian Press: Moose-spotting season draws visitors to northern N.H., near Que. border

2 days ago
PITTSBURG, N.H. — There are about 10,000 moose in New Hampshire - most living in the Great North Woods section of the state near the Quebec border - and tour groups provide several options for close encounters with the big beasts.
Spring is prime moose-spotting season, when the animals can be seen on roadsides licking the remains of salt that has built up after a long winter, say state tourism officials.
Pemi Valley Excursions (, a motorcoach tour company, makes a 2 1/2-to three-hour journey through the White Mountains in search of the gentle giants. The $20 evening expeditions run from May until early October.
The outfitter Outdoor Escapes ( offers moose-spotting expeditions by, among other means, canoe, mountain bikes and SUVs. Six-hour tours start at $193.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (, a naturalists association, provides free moose-spotting forays in the White Mountains.
Best roadside bet to see a moose at the roadside in the spring? Try a stretch of Route 3 that runs from Pittsburg, N.H., to the Canada-U.S. border that the locals call Moose Alley. Pittsburg is about 85 kilometres southeast of Sherbrooke, Que.
Moose are also a big attraction at Deer Mountain State Park, five minutes south of the border. It's adjacent to Moose Alley, which makes it a prime location for moose viewing.
The N.H. Natural Heritage Bureau recently published four new guides as part of its Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity series. The guides can be downloaded at: Guides.htm.

Terra Nova wanted for shipwreck duty in the St. Lawrence River. Divers rally to sink her

If group can find $2 million
Warship that saw Gulf War service could become
the St Lawrence River’s first artificial reef
By Stephen Weir

(April 2008, Diver Magazine - unedited version of feature including sidebars that didn't make it into print):

Canadian divers along the north shore of the St Lawrence River know what ship they want and where they want to sink it, but what they don’t have is the money to make it happen … yet. Late last December a small group of divers in Brockville kicked off a bold plan to create an artificial reef near this small Ontario city.
The Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association, (EOARA), have set their sights on the now mothballed HMCS Terra Nova. The “paid-off” 112 meter long warship, is currently docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A second warship, the HMCS Gatineau, is also available to the group. She has also been mothballed by the Canadian Navy.
“We really want the Terra Nova, it is the right height for where we want to sink her in the St. Lawrence,” said Michael Ryan, spokesman for the EOARA. “ We have located a large sandy flat spot (close to Brockville) away from the shipping lanes and still a thousand metres from shore where the depth is a maximum 43 metres. “
“ That is the maximum depth for recreational divers,” he continued. “ And we need almost that much water because the Terra Nova is so large – we should end up with 17 metres of clear water between the top of the wreck and the river surface.”
The two-year old Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association draws its membership from boat charter operators, clubs, wreck associations and individual divers living along the dive coast of St Lawrence – a zone that stretches from Kingston to Quebec border.
According to a press release issued by EOARA “the group's objectives for this artificial reef are to increase and improve Eastern Ontario's economic situation and tourism industry by attracting an additional 10,000 recreational scuba divers to the region in the first year following the sinking. These visitors will contribute an additional $8M in direct tourism revenues. A recent project in Pensacola, Florida, the sinking of aircraft carrier "Oriskany", has made headlines, and the county reportedly made its investment of $1M back in the first 3 days.”
Michael Ryan says that his group is getting “tremendous support” from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, Transport Canada Navigable Waters Protection, and neighbouring communities.”
This purported Ontario government support is an about-face for the province. In 1995 an attempt to create an artificial reef in Lake Ontario near the city of Toronto was scuttled when the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources placed a moratorium on the use of large ships to create artificial reefs.
The Brockville group has approached Canadian Artificial Reef Consulting (CARC) based in Vancouver, to oversee the sinking of the Terra Nova. Canadian Artificial Reef Consulting is a world leader in the creation of artificial reefs.
“ We are looking for the Canadian Navy to remove all the wiring, PCBs and asbestos from the Terra Nova in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia,” explained Mr. Ryan. “We will tow her to Prescott (a town near Brockville). Here CARC will prepare her for sinking – cutting holes, removing obstructions and (making her dive friendly).”
It is estimated that the cost of the towing, preparation and scuttling will cost about $2 million dollars. Mr. Ryan’s group doesn’t have that sort of money, so, fund raising efforts have already begun.
The EOARA will be holding a general meeting this winter to brief the public of their fund raising plans. If they are able to raise sufficient funds, the 49 year old Restigouche-class destroyer escort will be sunk in the summer of 2009.
This will not be the first time that divers in the St Lawrence corridor have tried to raise funds to sink the Terra Nova or the Gatineau. Waterfront Alliance Kingston spent four years trying to create an artificial reef in the St Lawrence River but in June 2002 shut the project down.

By Stephen Weir

• A 58 metre long retired Navy ship has been sent to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the Delaware coast. The ship, the Gregory Poole, was sunk about 35 kilometres southeast of Indian River Inlet.

• Texas divers have a new wreck to visit underwater. Late last year the Texas Clipper was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico off South Padre Island to become an artificial reef. The 473-foot Clipper was scuttled in November 2006 and ended up resting on its port side instead of upright, but is still accessible to scuba divers.

• Shipwreck enthusiasts in the Lake Michigan community of Muskegon are pushing the State of Michigan to protect and preserve the region’s shipwrecks and maritime history.
A seven-member board of the proposed West Michigan Underwater Preserve (WMUP) is formally requesting the protect of the State. The preserve, if approved, would stretch from Grand Haven to Pentwater.
The group, including divers, has identified 12 wrecks expects more to be found. According to press reports, the WMUP also want to sink a ship in the proposed preserve for divers to explore. In Michigan, an underwater preserve is allowed to sink one vessel.