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September 27. 2014 8:51PM

Missing moose, ancient glaciers and firewood


Back in the day, during the first several years of the new century, I could promise any guests at the South Hill Hilton (my house) that if they drove along Pittsburg's Moose Alley they were guaranteed seeing a moose, or as the kids would say, mooses galore.

But as so many people who live in, work in or roam far and wide in the woods have been insisting for the past five or six years now, moose have been in a steady decline, and in many areas where moose were all around, now there are next to none.

Profusions of ticks - enabled to survive by warmer winters - have been blamed for this demise, but wildlife biologists now believe that something else might be at play. So far I've not seen, heard or read what that might be.

Three times in the past two months I've taken the beautiful drive from Pittsburg to the Canadian border and back in the hours toward dusk, and have seen nary a moose. And ditto for two trips to Auburn and back to visit relatives, a trip that usually offered moose galore.

On Friday mornings at 8:10 or so, I do a regular radio gabfest with Jack Heath (WGIR 610 AM and 96.7 FM Seacoast), and this past Friday he asked if I buy my firewood. Yes, I said, because the last glacier had not been nice to me, and had scraped all the hardwood-friendly soil onto neighboring lands owned by good neighbors and Junior Lambert and Danny Beloin. My woodlands are a mix of spruce, fir, cedar and the occasional scraggly white birch, pretty to look at but not very efficient to burn.

So, like the speculators in tramp-tanker oil, I'm in the spot-market game for loads of tree-length hardwood (birch, beech, maple and ash), and wait until I hear about a load of the right-size trees (nothing over a foot on the butt) at the right price (around $100 a cord, bearing in mind that estimating cordage when you're talking about tree-length loads is a tricky business).

Jack guessed that it takes nine to 10 cords to heat my large, sprawling house and provide domestic hot water in the bargain, and he's right. But this estimate takes in all the junk wood I pick up each spring (and after storms) along woods roads and fencelines, to be heaved in (thanks to a huge door on the outdoor furnace) right along with the cordwood.

Meghan Pierce did a nice job on a story in the Sept. 25 New Hampshire Union Leader on a lanner falcon about to get eye surgery. Bill and Nancy Cowan of the N.H. School of Falconry, in Deering, own the falcon, whose African origins lend it a tendency to fly low to the ground and stay close to its handlers.

New Hampshire's Peregrine falcons, brought back from the edge of extirpation, don't fit in with falconry because they have a far different hunting ancestry and, according to the story, "fly far and wide."

Write to John Harrigan at or at Box 39, Colebrook 03576.

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