North American Moose

north american moose

The North American moose is perhaps the continent's most easily recognizable land animal. The large antler rack of a full grown bull and odd facial features make them a unique and sometimes formidable inhabitant of our Northwestern forests.

On an Alaska inside passage cruise it is certainly possible to observe them on one of the many day-excursions and if you're adding a dedicated land segment to your trip it will be surprising if you don't see them.

In using the word "formidable" let me just add a word about wildlife viewing in general. Like many things in life, common sense and a healthy (but not fearful) respect of Alaska's wildlife goes a long way. I've seen extremes on either end. One will keep you from enjoying them at all and the other could get you in trouble.

north american moose

Last year we did a jaunt through Yellowstone National Park and I was flabbergasted to watch tourists doing some foolish things with (to??) the wildlife just to get a photo (even "selfies"). So as a general rule if you give them their space and they don't feel threatened your wildlife encounters should be very positive.

And the North American Moose is no exception. They are herbivores (not interested in eating you) and tend to mind their own business. But in calving season (May) or when food scarcity causes them to wander into populated areas, they can be aggressive.

More North American Moose Facts

Moose prefer aquatic plants in the summer but also eat the leaves of birch, dogwood, maple, hazelnut, aspen, pin cherry and balsam fir. They can consume up to 71 pounds (32 kg) of food per day. They are also capable of diving to bottom-feed using muscles in the snout to close their nostrils.

A bull moose can weigh up to 1543 pounds (700 kg) and have an antler spread of 79 inches (200 cm).

They are solitary animals and rarely found in groups. The mother-calf bond is quite strong.

Predators include bears and wolves, though a full grown bull is usually left alone.

Moose for thousands of years have been a valuable food source and their hides used as clothing by the Aboriginal community. And they are a favorite of big game hunters. Their meat is very tasty, quite similar to beef but with less fat.

Vehicle collisions are a huge problem where roadways penetrate their habitat. Their dark coloring and nocturnal tendencies make careful driving an absolute necessity from dusk to dawn.

   

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