Moose: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Male (Bull)
Female (Cow)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Alces
Gray, 1821
Species: A. alces
Binomial name
Alces alces
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Moose range map
Distribution of North-American subspecies

The moose (North America) or common European elk (Europe), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a "twig-like" configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates.


Etymology and naming

The animal bearing the scientific name Alces americanus is known in North America and New Zealand as the moose. The scientific name for the Eurasian Elk is Alces alces. Moos-I is plural similarily goose, for which the plural is geese. The word moose is a borrowing from one Algonquian language, with the possible meaning of "stripping off"[2]. The word moose first entered English in 1606 from Captain Thomas Hanham's Mus, and in 1616 from Captain John Smith's Moos, with possible mutual reinforcement in usage.[3]

The British English name for Alces alces is elk, with cognates in other Indo-European languages, for example elch in German and łoś in Polish.

Confusingly, the word elk is used in North America to refer to a different animal, Cervus canadensis, also known as the wapiti. Except for its much larger size (it is the second largest deer species in the world), it is almost identical to the smaller red deer of Central and Western Europe. Presumably early European explorers in North America called it elk because of its size.

Habitat and range

In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada, most of central and western Alaska, much of New England and upstate New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, Northeastern Minnesota, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Isolated moose populations have been verified as far south as the mountains of Utah and Colorado.[4] In 1978, a few breeding pairs were introduced in western Colorado, and the state's moose population is now more than 1,000.

In Europe, moose are found in large numbers throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States. They are also widespread through Russia. Small populations remain in Poland (Biebrza Nat. Park), Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Moose were successfully introduced on Newfoundland in 1904 where they are now the dominant ungulate, and somewhat less successfully on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ten moose were introduced in Fiordland, New Zealand, in 1910. At one time this population was thought to have died off, but sightings have been reported, and in fact moose hair samples were found by a New Zealand scientist in 2002.[5] In 2008, two moose were reintroduced into the Scottish Highlands. There are plans for dozens more of the animals to be shipped to Scotland by spring 2010.[6]


Finland In 2008 there were 264,000 moose in Finland.

Norway In 2007 there were 120,000 moose in Norway.

Newfoundland In 2007 There were 150,000 moose in Newfoundland.


Common name Binomial Range
European Moose A. a. alces Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Russia. Extirpated from central and western Europe except for Poland, Lithuania and Belarus, but can be observed in Bohemia since the 1970s. (Range formerly included France, Germany, and Benelux nations.)
Eastern Moose A. a. americana eastern Canada and northeastern United States
Western Moose A. a. andersoni western Canada, Michigan (Upper Peninsula), northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota
Siberian Moose A. a. cameloides eastern Siberia, Mongolia, and Manchuria
Alaska Moose A. a. gigas Alaska and Yukon. Largest subspecies.
Shiras Moose A. a. shirasi Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Montana.[7] Smallest subspecies.

Biology and behavior


All moose are herbivores and are capable of consuming any type of plant or fruit. The average adult moose needs to consume 9,770 calories per day to maintain its body weight.[8]


A full grown bull from British Columbia with early (May) antlers

The male's antlers grow as cylindrical beams projecting on each side of the head at right angles to the midline of the skull, and then fork. The lower prong of this fork may be either simple, or divided into two or three tines, with some flattening.

In the North Siberian elk (A. a. bedfordiae), the posterior division of the main fork divides into three tines, with no distinct flattening. In the common elk (A. a. alces) this branch usually expands into a broad palmation, with one large tine at the base, and a number of smaller snags on the free border. There is, however, a Scandinavian breed of the common elk in which the antlers are simpler, and recall those of the East Siberian animals.

The palmation appears to be more marked in North American moose (Alces alces americanus) than in the typical Scandinavian elk.

A young female in Algonquin Park in early June

The male will drop its antlers after the mating season and conserve energy for the winter. A new set of antlers will then regrow in the spring. Antlers take three to five months to fully develop, making them one of the fastest growing animal organs. They initially have a layer of skin, called "velvet," which is shed once the antlers become fully grown. Immature bulls may not shed their antlers for the winter, but retain them until the following spring.

If a bull moose is castrated, either by accidental or chemical means, he will quickly shed his current set of antlers and then immediately begin to grow a new set of misshapen and deformed antlers that he will wear the rest of his life without ever shedding again. The distinctive looking appendages (often referred to as "devil's antlers") are the source of several myths and legends among many groups of Inuit as well as several other tribes of indigenous peoples of North America.[9]

Size and weight

Crossing a river

On average, an adult moose stands 1.8–2.1 m (6–7 ft) high at the shoulder.[10] Males weigh 380–720 kg (850–1580 pounds) and females weigh 270–360 kg (600–800  pounds).[11] The largest of all is the Alaskan subspecies (A. a. gigas), which can stand over 2.1 m (7 ft) at the shoulder, has a span across the antlers of 1.8 m (6 ft) and averages 634.5 kg (1,396 lbs) in males and 478 kg (1,052 lbs) in females.[12] Typically, however, the antlers of a mature specimen are between 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The largest confirmed size for this species was a bull shot at the Yukon River in September 1897 weighing 820 kg (1,800 lb) and was 233 cm (92 in) tall at the shoulder.[13] The Moose of Alaska matches the extinct Irish Elk as the largest deer of all time.[14] Behind only the bison, the Moose is the second largest land animal in both North America and Europe.

Social structure and reproduction

Moose are mostly diurnal. They are generally solitary with the strongest bonds between mother and calf. Two individuals can sometimes be found feeding along the same stream.

Mating occurs in September and October. The males are polygamous and will seek several females to breed with. During this times both sexes will call to each other. Males produce heavy grunting sounds that can be heard from up to 500 meters away, while females produce wail-like sounds.[15] Males will fight for access to females. They either assess which is larger, with the smaller bull retreating, or they may engage in battles, usually only involving the antlers.

Female moose have an eight-month gestation period, usually bearing one calf, or twins if food is plentiful,[16] in May or June.[17] Newborn moose have fur with a reddish hue in contrast to the brown appearance of an adult. The young will stay with the mother until just before the next young are born.

newborn calves in spring 
calves stay near their mothers at all times 
this nine month old calf is almost ready to leave its mother 

Natural predators

An Iron age saddle from Siberia, depicting a moose being hunted by a Siberian tiger
A moose battling a wolf pack, as illustrated in The Natural History of Quadrupeds by Frederick Shoberl, 1834

A full-grown moose has few enemies, but a pack of wolves can still pose a threat, especially to females with calves.[18] Siberian Tigers [19] and Brown Bear[12][20] are also known to prey on moose, although bears are more likely to take over a wolf kill or to take young moose than to hunt adult moose on their own.[21] American Black Bears and Cougars can be significant predators of moose calves in May and June.[22][23] Killer Whales are the moose's only known marine predator as they been known to prey on them when swimming between islands out of North America's Northwest Coast.

In some areas, moose are the primary source of food for wolves. Moose usually flee upon detecting wolves. Wolves usually follow moose at a distance of 100 to 400 metres (330 to 1,300 ft), occasionally at a distance of 2 to 3 kilometres (1.2 to 1.9 mi). Attacks from wolves against young moose may last seconds, though sometimes they can be drawn out for days with adults. Sometimes, wolves will chase moose into shallow streams or onto frozen rivers, where their mobility is greatly impeded. Moose will sometimes stand their ground and defend themselves by charging at the wolves or lashing out at them with their powerful hooves. Wolves typically kill moose by tearing at their haunches and perineum, causing massive blood loss. Occasionally, a wolf may immobilise a moose by biting its sensitive nose, the pain of which can paralyze a moose.[24] Wolf packs primarily target calves and elderly animals, but can and will take healthy, adult moose. Moose between the ages of two and eight are rarely killed by wolves.[25] Though moose are usually hunted by packs, there are cases in which single wolves have successfully killed moose.[26]

As food

Moose scat is commonly found on trails. Some souvenir shops sell bags of it, sealed with shellac and labeled with humorous names.

Moose are hunted as a game species in many of the countries where they are found. Moose meat tastes, wrote Henry David Thoreau in “The Maine Woods”, “like tender beef, with perhaps more flavour; sometimes like veal”. While the flesh has protein levels similar to other comparable red meats (e.g. beef, deer and elk) it has a low fat content and the fat that is found is made up of a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fats (rather than saturated fats).[27]

Cadmium levels are high in Finnish elk liver and kidneys, with the result that consumption of these organs from elk more than one year old is prohibited in Finland.[28] Cadmium intake has been found to be elevated amongst all consumers of elk meat, though the elk meat was found to contribute only slightly to the daily cadmium intake. However the consumption of moose liver or kidneys significantly increased cadmium intake, with the study revealing that heavy consumers of moose organs have a relatively narrow safety margin below the levels which would probably cause adverse health effects.[29]


A moose with reflection

European rock drawings and cave paintings reveal that moose have been hunted since the Stone Age. Excavations in Alby, Sweden, adjacent to the Stora Alvaret have yielded elk antlers in wooden hut remains from 6,000 BC, indicating some of the earliest elk hunting in northern Europe. In northern Scandinavia one can still find remains of trapping pits used for hunting elk. These pits, which can be up to 4 × 7 m wide and 2 m deep, would have been camouflaged with branches and leaves. They would have had steep sides lined with planks, making it impossible for the elk to escape once it fell in. The pits are normally found in large groups, crossing the elk's regular paths and stretching over several kilometres. Remains of wooden fences designed to guide the animals toward the pits have been found in bogs and peat. In Norway, an early example of these trapping devices has been dated to around 3,700 BC. Trapping elk in pits is an extremely effective hunting method, and as early as the 16th century the Norwegian government tried to restrict their use. Nevertheless, the method was in use until the 19th century.

The earliest recorded description of the elk is in Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, where it is described thus:

"There are also [animals] which are called elks. The shape of these, and the varied color of their skins, is much like roes, but in size they surpass them a little and are destitute of horns, and have legs without joints and ligatures; nor do they lie down for the purpose of rest, nor, if they have been thrown down by any accident, can they raise or lift themselves up. Trees serve as beds to them ; they lean themselves against them, and thus reclining only slightly, they take their rest; when the huntsmen have discovered from the footsteps of these animals whither they are accustomed to betake themselves, they either undermine all the trees at the roots, or cut into them so far that the upper part of the trees may appear to be left standing. When they have leant upon them, according to their habit, they knock down by their weight the unsupported trees, and fall down themselves along with them."[30]

In book 8, chapter 16 of Pliny the Elder's Natural History from 77 AD the elk and an animal called achlis, which is presumably the same animal, are described thus:

"...there is, also, the elk, which strongly resembles our steers, except that it is distinguished by the length of the ears and of the neck. There is also the achlis, which is produced in the land of Scandinavia; it has never been seen in this city, although we have had descriptions of it from many persons; it is not unlike the elk, but has no joints in the hind leg. Hence, it never lies down, but reclines against a tree while it sleeps; it can only be taken by previously cutting into the tree, and thus laying a trap for it, as otherwise, it would escape through its swiftness. Its upper lip is so extremely large, for which reason it is obliged to go backwards when grazing; otherwise, by moving onwards, the lip would get doubled up."[31]

Dr. Valerius Geist, who emigrated to Canada from the Soviet Union wrote in his 1999 book Moose: Behaviour, Ecology, Conservation:

"Those who care most passionately about moose are—paradoxically—hunters, in particular people who live in wilderness and rural communities and those who depend on moose for food. In Sweden, no fall menu is without a mouthwatering moose dish. The Swedes fence their highways to reduce moose fatalities and design moose-proof cars. Sweden is less than half as large as the Canadian province of British Columbia, but the annual take of moose in Sweden—upward of 150,000—is twice that of the total moose harvest in North America. That is how much Swedes cherish their moose."


Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression. In terms of raw numbers, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined, but usually with only minor consequences. When harassed or startled by people or in the presence of a dog, moose may charge. Also, as with bears or any wild animal, moose that have become habituated to being fed by people may act aggressively when denied food. During the fall mating season, bull moose may be aggressive toward humans due to the high hormone levels they experience during this time. Cows with young calves are very protective and will attack humans who come too close, especially if they come between mother and calf. Unlike other dangerous animals, moose are not territorial, and do not view humans as food, and will therefore usually not pursue humans if they simply run away.[32] Like any wild animal, moose are unpredictable and should be given a respectful amount of space.

Vehicle collisions

Moose crossing a road, Alaska, USA

A moose's body structure, with a large heavy body suspended on long spindly legs, makes these animals particularly dangerous when hit by passenger cars with low ground clearances. Generally, when colliding with a moose at high speed, the car's bumper and front grille will break the moose's legs, causing the body of the moose to fly up and over the car's hood and deliver the bulk of the animal's weight into the windscreen, crushing the front roof support beams and anyone in the front seats. Collisions of this type are frequently lethal; seatbelts offer no protection, and airbags may not deploy or be of much use if they do.[33] Although vehicles with higher clearances (such as trucks) are typically immune from this effect, the force of striking any 1,000+ lb. object at high speed should not be underestimated. These risks led to the development of a vehicle test referred to as the "moose test" (Swedish: Älgtest, German: Elchtest).

Moose warning signs are used on roads in regions where there is a danger of collision with the animal. The triangular warning signs common in Sweden, Norway and Finland have become coveted souvenirs among tourists traveling in these countries, causing the road authorities so much expense that the moose signs have been replaced with image-less generic warning signs in some regions.[34]

A moose warning sign from Finland.
Kaliforsky Beach Road, Kenai Alaska, trees and brush are trimmed along high moose crossing areas so that moose can be seen as they approach the road

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten estimated in January 2008 that some 13,000 moose had died in collisions with Norwegian trains since 2000. The state agency in charge of railroad infrastructure (Jernbaneverket) plans to spend 80 million Norwegian kroner to reduce collision rate in the future by fencing the railways, clearing vegetation from near the tracks, and providing alternative snow-free feeding places for the animals elsewhere.[35]

In the Canadian province of New Brunswick, collisions with moose are frequent enough that all new highways have fences to prevent moose from accessing the road, similar to how it has long been done in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Demonstratively, Highway 7 between Fredericton and Saint John, which has one of the highest frequencies of moose collisions in the province, does not have these fences, although it is extremely well signed.[36] In Newfoundland and Labrador, it is recommended to motorists to use caution between dusk and dawn, because that is when moose are most active and most difficult to see, increasing the risk of collisions.[37] Local moose sightings are often reported on radio stations so that motorists can take care while driving in particular areas.


Domestication of moose was investigated in the Soviet Union before World War II. Early experiments were inconclusive, but with the creation of a moose farm at Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve in 1949 a small-scale moose domestication program was started, involving attempts at selective breeding of animals based on their behavioural characteristics. Since 1963, the programme has continued at Kostroma Moose Farm, which had a herd of 33 tame moose as of 2003. Although at this stage the farm is not expected to be a profit-making enterprise, it obtains some income from the sale of moose milk and from visiting tourist groups. Its main value, however, is seen in the opportunities it offers for the research in the physiology and behaviour of the moose, as well as in the insights it provides into the general principles of animal domestication.


  1. ^ Henttonen, H., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Tikhonov A. (2008). Alces alces. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 11 February 2009.
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary: "moose"
  3. ^ "moose". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  4. ^ "Utah Division of Wildlife Resources". 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  5. ^ "Hairs move NZ moose out of realm of Nessie - 06 October 2005 - Dunedin and Otago News, Sport and Weather from NZ Herald". NZ Herald. 2005-10-06. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  6. ^ 24 april 2009 (2009-04-24). "Re-Introducing Moose to the Glen - Moose - BBC". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  7. ^ "Moose Status and Hunting in Washington By Dana L. Base, Associate Wildlife Biologist August 2004". Retrieved 2009-12-07. 
  8. ^ Info on moose diet from Norwestern University
  9. ^ Geist, Valerius (1998) Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behaviour, and Ecology Stackpole Books,
  10. ^ "Moose Facts from Maine". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  11. ^ "Moose". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  12. ^ a b Nancy Long / Kurt Savikko (2009-08-07). "Moose: Wildlife Notebook Series - Alaska Department of Fish and Game". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  13. ^ Wood, The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. Sterling Pub Co Inc (1983), ISBN 978-0851122359
  14. ^ March/April 1989 By David Petersen  . "Of Moose, Megaloceros and Miracles". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  15. ^ Moose Reproduction -- dead link
  16. ^ Ruff, Sue (1999). The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1560988452. 
  17. ^ "Moose: Minnesota DNR". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  18. ^ Nancy Long / Kurt Savikko (2007-12-17). "Wolf: Wildlife Notebook Series - Alaska Department of Fish and Game". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Estimating Grizzly Bear (Ursus Arctos horribilis) Abundance and Density in -- dead link
  21. ^ Nancy Long / Kurt Savikko (2009-08-07). "Brown Bear: Wildlife Notebook Series - Alaska Department of Fish and Game". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Hinterland Who's Who - Cougar". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  24. ^ Graves, Will (2007). Wolves in Russia: Anxiety throughout the ages. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises. p. 222. ISBN 1550593323. OCLC 80431846. 
  25. ^ Watching Wolves On a Wild Ride By Les Line, National Wildlife Federation, December/January 2001, vol. 39 no. 1
  26. ^ Alaska Science Forum, June 10, 2004 Are ravens responsible for wolf packs? Article #1702 by Ned Rozell
  27. ^
  28. ^ "All-clear for Finnish foods". Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  29. ^ Vahteristo, L., Lyytikäinen, T., Venäläinen, E. R., Eskola, M., Lindfors, E., Pohjanvirta, R., & Maijala, R. (2003). Cadmium intake of moose hunters in Finland from consumption of moose meat, liver and kidney. Food Additives and Contamination, 20, 453-463.
  30. ^ Caesar, Julius; Aulus Hirtius (1879). "XXVII". Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars. Harper & brothers. p. 154. 
  31. ^ "Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (eds. John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A.)". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  32. ^ "What To Do About Aggressive Moose, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish and Game". Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  33. ^ Number 1, 2004, of Nordic Road & Transport Research. Annotations Sweden
  34. ^ *(Swedish) "Älgsafari lockar tusentals turister", Dagens Nyheter, August 12, 2007. Accessed November 6, 2009."
  35. ^ Railroad takes steps to reduce moose crashes Aftenposten 28 January 2008
  36. ^ Moose-Vehicle Collision Information - New Brunswick Department of Transportation -- dead link
  37. ^ "Highway Driving Conditions - Department of Transportation and Works". Retrieved 2009-11-06. 

Further reading

  • Alces, a journal devoted to the biology and management of moose (Alces alces)
  • DuTemple, Lesley A. (2000-02-01). North American Moose. Lerner Publications. ISBN 1575054264, 9781575054261. 
  • Geist, Valerius; Michael H. Francis (1999-11). Moose: Behavior, Ecology, Conservation. Voyageur Press (MN). ISBN 0896584224. 
  • Promack, Jennie; Thomas J. Sanker (1992-06-01). Seasons of the Moose. Gibbs Smith. ISBN 0879054557, 9780879054557. 
  • Strong, Paul (1998-05). Wild Moose Country (illustrated edition ed.). Cowles Creative Publishing. ISBN 155971638X. 

External links

For haulage

There are photographic records of moose apparently being broken-in for haulage:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MOOSE, the North American Indian (Algonquian) name of the North American representative of the European elk. The word is said to mean "cropper" or "trimmer," from the animal's habit of feeding on the branches of trees.

<< Moors

Moot >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also moose




Moose n.

  1. Plural form of Moos.

Simple English

File:Moose in
Alces alces
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Alces
Gray, 1821
Species: Alces alces
Binomial name
Alces alces
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Where moose live (marked red).

A moose (Alces alces) (called elk in Europe) is a mammal of the deer family. A male moose is called a bull, a female moose is called a cow, and a young moose is called a calf. A group of moose is called a herd. The plural of moose is "moose" (such as: There was one moose in the forest / There were two moose in the forest.).



Moose are about 3 meters long and about 2 meters / 6.5 feet tall. Males usually weigh about 500 kilograms / 1,100 pounds, and females weigh about 400 kilograms / 880 pounds. The moose has a fur coat colored between reddish-brown and blackish-brown. In winter, their fur becomes a grayish color. Moose have a flap of skin hanging from their throats, which is called a "bell". Male moose have large antlers. These antlers fall off before winter. In the spring the antlers grow back again. Female moose do not have antlers.


The moose lives across North America to northern Europe to Siberia. In Europe they live in Finland, Sweden , Norway and the Baltic countries.(Estonia ,Latvia and Lithuania). In north America they live in Canada , Alaska , and little bit USA. In 2008 they have been re-introduced to Scottish Highlands from Scandinavia.


Moose live in northern Europe, Asia, and in North America. Moose usually live in areas with lakes, marshes and swamps.They also live in moutains like Alaska and Canada.


Finland in 2008 there were about 264,000 moose in Finland.


A female moose and her calf.

Moose are active during the day. They live alone, but in winter they sometimes form small groups. Moose eat grass, leaves, twigs, willow, birch and maple shoots and water plants. After a pregnancy of 8 months, the female gives birth to 1 or 2 babies. Females begin to have babies when they are 2 or 3 years old. Young moose stay with their mother for a year; after one year they leave and live alone. Moose usually become 15 years old, but they can become up to 27 years old. A mother moose will aggressively protect her young. Their enemies are bears and wolves, who hunt moose calves.

Moose and humans

Moose have been hunted by humans for a very long time, since the Stone Age.

Because of their dark coloured fur, Moose are sometimes hit by cars since they are hard to see when they are crossing roads at night. In some countries like Canada, Finland and Sweden they have a moose sign and have fences around motorways.

Other websites

Look up Alces in Wikispecies, a directory of species
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