Life with the Moose


One of the most majestic and largest animal I have ever seen in the wild is the moose.  My first time meeting one was south of Jackson Hole Idaho while camping out there. Rampaging towards me straight as an arrow without deflecting I ran out  of the way as it passed me as I stood 15 feet from my truck ad he passed between me and the truck.  This is typical introduction to the Moose. Out of nowhere they barrel thru the wood lands as noisy and as unflinching as a freight train.  And they on their long legs are huge with the cows weighing 600 to 800 pounds and bulls weighing 600 to 1200 pounds with a 6 foot height at the shoulders, you do not want to be anywhere near them when they trot into your vision.  Born in May or June they have a 8 month gestation and are born weighing 20 pounds  and they, the calves, are soon standing to facilitate the cow drying of the calf with her tongue to proceed into the swampy feeding grounds.

I worked a construction project in northern Canada where we saw many moose.  They would come out of the brush in haphazard ways and were fully capable to destroy a pickup truck if you were not yielding right of way to them.  They are terribly near sighted and when left to mingle with other wild animals are able to make up the lack of vision with their superior hearing and smell.  These animals are least likely to ever be housed in a zoo.  They are that adapted to the wilderness that they thrive in 

Moose have a few unique features that help them survive the cold climates they frequent.  Most note able are the antlers the bulls sport they use to fight other bulls during breeding season and during the summer wolves and any other animal that seeks a challenge.  These antlers often spread as much as 6 feet across and 30 inches deep and are shaped like spoons with short tines on half the front outer edge.  The large antlers also help push the brush out of the path of these monsters.   Weighing up to 40 pounds, bulls will shed these antlers in early winter.

Also unique to moose are their hides which vary in color from light brown to black, are double layered with a thick outercoat that sheds water and an undercoat of hollow tubed fur that insulates very well.  Also unique is heir hump on their shoulders, their horse like face and the bulls having a patch of skin that hangs below their chin.

Moose forage on aquatic plants as well as twigs and leaves of any wooded plant.  They can not digest hay or fresh grass and must have a good source of salt.  Ideally they get most if not all from the swamp plants they eat but are known to lick it off the roadways in the winter when salt is used to thaw ice on roads.   They eat over 40 pounds per day.

I hope you get a chance to meet a moose but be careful not to get in front of them.  They travel at 35 miles per  hour.                                                                                          

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