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Up-Close and Personal With
The Herd
We're The Largest Member Of The Deer Family


"Walking In The Woods" 
(c) Stephen Lyman

Our Roots

Well, we Moose evolved on the European continent more than a 500,000 years ago. Recently, about 100,000 years ago, we migrated eastward across northern Europe and Siberia... Of course we "did" the Bering Straits - Land Bridge Thing with a bunch of other animals during the Ice Age.  Then, most of us remained in Alaska, but others continued "Eastward Ho" across North American.

Today, we're all over the Northern Hemisphere.  Our range essentially coincides with that of the coniferous forests of North America, Northern Asia, and in Europe, where for unkown reasons Europeans call everything that resembles a deer an Elk.  Then again, they now have a Eurodollar, so perhaps "one-of-a-kind" makes sense to them. 

Our greatest population is still in Alaska with Maine a far distant second by a factor of 6-1, followed by Wyoming and Minnesota which combined don't have numbers equal our numbers in Maine. And Maine plus Wyoming and Minnesota don't equal a third of Alaska's population. Now, by presenting these ratios and giving the total number equal to 230,000, we know that we'll send you Algebra buffs into a state of ecstacy!  Humans, crack us up... always trying to "solve" problems.

Our name, "moose," is derived from the Natick Indian word "moos," itself, derived from the Algonquian word "mooswa," meaning "the animal that strips bark off of trees." Some claim that it means "twig eater." What's the difference. Neither indicate that we eat Big Macs or domestic cats! 

Our Nutrition

We eat a variety of plants plus shrubs and trees, usually preferring morsels of maples and aspens.  We refer to all of our food as "browse," as in browsing. Humans who have a need to classify everything call us "herbivores."   As an aside, we think it odd that humans buy groceries, but don't refer to themselve as grocerivores! 

Actually, we're quite opportunisitc browsers... In summer months, we fancy water plants.  At times, we get motivated and dive deep to grab a tasty tidbit. Some of us can "free dive" beyond fifteen feet!  Ya, the Navy has been telling us how dolphins are now "Seeing the World."  But we're saying "No Thanks!  We're swamp sweepers...not mine sweepers!"  ( We can't figure out those dolphin... Just when they get protected by "dolphin safe" tuna fishing, they start hanging around explosive mines.  And they're suppose to be highly intelligent!  We...Don't...Think...So!)

We instinctively get the "munchies" following our Fall mating season.  It's necessary to "bulk up" on nutritional resources prior to the harsh winters when we may lose up to 30% of our body weight.  You Slim Fast dieters may be eating your hearts out over this reduction, but trust us... at times we truly are down to eating the cellulose which you ingest through diet food to just feel full.  

Despite having no upper teeth, we consume between 40  to 60 pounds of food per day.  That's a lot of "moose pies" in any neighborhood!  And, it's probably why "burb" dwellers call the police when they sight us.  They're not concerned for us... but for their chemically fertilized, manicured lawn.

We have a digestive system similar to your domestic cattle. Having four parts to our stomach, we ruminate... over food... over harsh winters... over swamp bugs,,, and over Websites!  Following our browsing periods, we do a little "R 'n R" -- Rest 'n Regurgitation.  Yup, we "toss" the partially digested food from our stomach to our mouths to "chew our cud" -- so to speak --  an action that more completely breaks down our food before swallowing it again..  This may sound disgusting to you, but it beats "brown-bagging-it" to work, or paying inflated deli prices. 

Our Size

Males are called bulls, though only our fearless leader, "Bull," capitalizes his name; females are cows; babies, calves.  Obviously, bulls don't like being "cowed" by anything.  Ah, but a little seduction does go a long way!  

Some of us bulls grow to be 7 feet tall and weigh 1500 pounds!  However, on average, we weight about 1,000 pounds; females,.. about 800.  Overall, our biggest "bros" are in Alaska playing in the  MFL and MBA... THAT'S Moose Football League and Moose Basketball Association for people who haven't had their second cup of coffee.

Our Antlers 

Only bulls have antlers. They begin to grow early in the spring.  As they grow, they are covered with a fuzzy, soft skin which we call "velvet."  The velvet encases blood vessels which feed our growing antlers.  Following the end of warm summer months, our antlers reach the maximum growth and harden.  No longer needed, the velvet begins to die and slough.

At this point, we vigorously rub our antlers against trees to remove the velvet in order to display our new rack.  ( Hey... Come on... Pay attention... We're talkin' bulls here! )   Well anyway., back to the point.  Our antlers are important visual symbols that indicate our social position and condition to cows that we'd like breed... and to other bulls that we may have to fight to do so!  (Why is sex never without complications... even in Bullwinkle's World)  And, like many antlered animals, our antlers generally increase in size each year.   It's like having the secondary, sex-appeal lottery (which you may, or may not have won as a teenager) only annually.  Now we ask you, humans... seriously,,, wouldn't you rub your head... or some other anatomy... against a tree if you might become sexier?      

By the way, the antler sizes of prime bulls are impressive.  Antlers may weigh 50, 60 pounds, or more!  The largest recorded set measured nearly 7 feet across. Obviously, this "stud" was the hearthtrob of all cows and the envy of all bulls.

While growing, our antlers are relatively soft and susceptible to injuries which can often cause deformity in the final shape.  Serious antler injuries can even show up on the subsequent year's antlers. 

Late in autumn or early winter, following the mating season, antlers are shed, pretty much in the order that we mated.  It's quite a weight off our shoulders... winter is hard enough to bear.   But, don't go searching; you're unlikely to stuble across our shed antlers.  Because they contain desirable nutrients, our antlers are eaten by squirrels, mice, porcupines, and other woodland creatures.  "Mother Nature" and "Father Time" recycle!

Some people characterize our distinctive antlers as being "spatulated;" others, "palmated." Call them as you like, we call them our "Smith & Wesson." Go ahead, punk... Come closer... "Make Our Day!" 

As is said of the camel, because of our ungainly looks, some people joke that we're a deer designed by a committee. Perhaps so, jocular humans, but don't mess with us...  We can run up to 35 miles per hour. And, we are excellent swimmers, capable of swimming up to 6 miles per hour for two hours straight. ONE WAY OR OTHER, WE'LL GETCHA!... "Film Clip at 11!" 

"An even-toed ungulate animal, characterized by spatulate antlers, long legs, a short tail, and a large head with a prominent overhanging snout, attacks a wise-guy who apparently taunted it with the "C" word... Camel!"

Stay tuned for full details.

Our Lives

We have a life expectancy of 8-25 years. Because we're one of the largest North American animals, we have few preditors (ahem... besides humans) to knock us off and endanger us.  We suppose that brown bears and grizzlies are potential threats.  But, honestly, they think so more than us. ( Yabba Dabba Do to you, too, Yogi! )  Still, bears and wolves do threaten our calves, despite fierce maternally instincts.  Talk about mad cow anything... "you ain't seen nothin' 'til you've seen a Mad Mamma thrashin' the bejeezus out of a predator! 

Our most serious, natural, life-threatening disease is called brainworm; it's a parasite carried by our cousins, the white-tailed deer, which apparently is not affected by it. Hey! What are relative for?  The worms are excreted in their droppings. Organisms feeding on these droppings find their way to our browse which unknowingly we consume. The parasite inflicts fatal damage our nervous system.
It's ugly.  End of story.

Frankly, our most "unnatural" threat is from you, humans, and your inhumanity. Trophy hunting, toxic wastes, loss of habitat, and more, all knock the life out us.


moosegreenreliefhome.jpg. moosegreenrelieftop.jpg.