Moose

A bull moose can reach 1,400 pounds, and the subspecies tundra moose Alces alces gigas , found in Alaska , can be 1,800 pounds and 8½ feet long. Their size doesn't limit their speed at all - those long legs can move a moose along at up to 35 miles per hour.

The moose's dense coat, seen in the scan to the right, keeps it warm at virtually any temperature. In the winter, temperatures above minus 5° Celsius (23° F.) are quite uncomfortably warm for them. The antlers of the bulls, which can grow to 70 inches across, make thickly-forested areas impassable for them. You may hear the term "moose horns" used, but that is incorrect - antlers are made of bone and are grown, shed and regrown yearly, while horns are made of keratin and keep growing year after year.

The greatest enemies of the moose, other than humans, are wolves and bears (both black and grizzly). In the Yukon River Flats of central Alaska , only about 30% of moose calves survive their first year, in the southwestern Yukon the survival rate is 19%, and in Denali National Park , the high grizzly population reduces that number to just over 11%.

Habitat & Diet

The moose, although relatively common in the lightly-forested regions of North America from about 40° North Latitude to the Arctic Circle, came across the Bering Land Bridge from Asia eons before humans followed, and are now found in boreal forests throughout the northern hemisphere.

A moose's diet varies dramatically from season to season, and not only the diet, but sometimes the age and sex of the animal, can be judged from the scat. In the winter, when much of their diet consists of branches and other dry woody materials, the scat is in pellet form. In Alaska , these "moose nuggets" are used in a variety of crafts, even being varnished and set in jewelry such as earrings!

Reproduction

Moose are fiercely protective of their young, which are born from mid-May to early June after a gestation period of about 230 days. Many people are injured or killed each year when they approach a cow with a calf or calves too closely. The occurrence of twins depends upon range conditions, but can be up to 75% of births. Triplets are rare, only occurring about once in 1,000 births.