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Pitchwood Island, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH -- mid-1990's


Moose Facts

Credit:  UNH Wildlife Profiles
    Written by Ellen J. Snyder, Extension Specialist, Wildlife, UNH Cooperative 
    Extension and Kristine Bontaitis, Wildlife Biologist, NH Fish and Game 
    Desktop publishing provided by UNHCE Educational Marketing and Information 
    Office, University of New Hampshire
Moose FactsWildlife Profiles, Univ. of New Hampshire Extension Web Site
(Alces alces)
      Moose are big. An adult moose, averaging 1000 pounds and standing 6 feet 
      at the shoulder, is the largest wild animal in North America. Moose have 
      keen senses of smell and hearing, but they're also near-sighted. Their 
      front legs are longer than their hind legs, allowing them to jump over 
      fallen trees, slash, and other debris. Moose, like deer, lack a set of 
      upper incisors; they strip off browse and bark rather than snipping it 
      neatly. Bulls and cows have different coloration patterns. Bulls have a 
      dark brown or black muzzle, while the cows face is light brown. Cows also 
      have a white patch of fur just beneath their tail.
    Only bulls grow antlers. Antler growth begins in March or April and is 
    completed by August or September when the velvet is shed. Antlers are 
    droppe4 starting in December; young bulls may retain their antlers into 
    early spring. Yearlings develop a spike or fork; adults develop antlers that 
    may weigh up60 pounds with wide sweeping palms with many long tines. The 
    bell the flap of skin and long hair that hangs from the throat, is more 
    pronounced in adult bulls than in cows or immature bulls.
    Range and Distribution:
    Moose occur in Alaska, Canada, northern U.S. from North Dakota across to 
    northern New England, and the northern Rockies south to Utah. Prior to 
    European settlement moose were more common than deer in New Hampshire; their 
    range extended from the Canadian border to the seacoast. By the mid-1800's 
    fewer than15 moose existed in the state. The small number and loss of 
    habitat slowed the recovery of the moose population. The moose herd didn't 
    begin to rebound noticeably until the early 1970's. By this time, abandoned 
    farmlands and changes in forest practices created a mosaic of mature and 
    young re-growing forests providing excellent moose habitat. Today there are 
    some 9,600 moose in New Hampshire, occurring in all ten counties with 
    highest densities in the Great North Woods. During a year moose home ranges 
    vary from 5 square miles to more than 50 depending on the season.
    Habits and Habitats:
    The breeding season or rut extends from mid-September through mid-October. 
    In the northeast moose don't form permanent pair bonds. The bull stays with 
    the cow only long enough to breed, then he leaves in pursuit of another cow. 
    Both bulls and cows travel more during this time in pursuit of a mate. Only 
    mature bulls five years or older breed. Bulls defend a cow they're pursuing, 
    driving off younger bulls and sparring with more evenly matched opponents or 
    youngsters bold enough to test their strength. Bull moose don't feed during 
    the rut and lose considerable weight. After the rut several bulls may be 
    seen eating together fattening up for the upcoming winter.
    Unlike bulls, cows breed at the age of 1 1/2 years. They give birth, at age 
    two, to one calf. Twins are common after a cow reaches age four (triplets 
    are rare but do occur in the state). Cows have been known to kill wolves, 
    grizzlies, black bear, and people in defense of their calves. A yearling 
    calf will stay with its mother until new calves are born. Calves are born in 
    late May or early June weighing 20-25 pounds. They're reddish brown in color 
    with no spots. By fall they weigh 3-400 pounds. Moose may live more than 20 
    years but they also die from several causes including collisions with 
    Each year nearly 200 moose are killed on our highways. Their dark coloration 
    blends well with dark pavement. To avoid collisions, drive slow enough at 
    night and dusk so you can stop within the limits of your headlights 
    Black bear are a significant predator on moose calves until calves are nine 
    weeks old. By then calves can outmaneuver a bear. Coyotes may take an 
    occasional calf. Moose are susceptible to a tiny parasite known as 
    brainworm. White-tailed deer carry the parasite, although they're 
    unaffected. The parasite passes from deer feces to a land snail to the moose 
    which ingest the snail while feeding on browse. Moose usually die from this 
    infection. Moose also die from severe infestations of winter ticks. Moose 
    attempt to remove ticks by scratching, licking, and rubbing often removing 
    their hair at the same time. This can lead to secondary infections and 
    hypothermia. One moose can carry 10,000 to 120,000 ticks.
    Food Habits and Habitat:
    Moose is an Algonquin term for "eater of twigs." Moose are primarily 
    browsers feeding on leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees 
    and shrubs. A healthy moose will eat 40-60 pounds of browse daily. Moose 
    favor willows, birches, aspens, maples, fir, and viburnums, in the fall they 
    begin feeding on the bark of some hardwoods, particularly maples and aspens. 
    In the winter moose feed on the buds and new woody growth of these plants.
    Moose feed heavily on sodium-rich aquatic plants in summer. Cows also prefer 
    to keep their calves near water as an escape route for their calves. Ponds 
    are used by both sexes to escape from moose flies and other pesky insects. 
    Moose wallows form in wet areas on the sides of highways where road salt 
    accumulates. Moose visit these areas to drink the salty water thereby 
    satisfying their salt requirements. Bull moose create wallows by pawing out 
    depressions then urinating in them. Bulls and cows will roll in the wallow 
    during the breeding season.
    Areas that provide large amounts of nutritious browse benefit moose. Forest 
    fires induce significantly more nutritious re-growth than that produced by a 
    chain saw. In the absence of fire, clear-cuts provide browse in abundance. 
    Large clear cuts (more than 100 acres) don't benefit moose as much as 
    smaller, dispersed cuts. Islands of uncut softwood and hardwood within large 
    clear-cuts are utilized by moose in the winter. Moose use clear-cuts until 
    the plants grow beyond their reach, in 10-30 years. They avoid dense 
    clear-cuts that restrict their movement and visibility. Beaver flowages are 
    used frequently by moose. Aspen or willow in a range of successional stages 
    is valuable. A mosaic of upland mature mixed wood (primarily hardwoods with 
    a softwood component), regenerating clear-cuts or burned areas, and wetlands 
    offers good moose habitat.
    As moose continue to colonize the central and southern areas of the state 
    they come in contact more and more with people. Safe moose viewing is 
    essential; watch from a safe and respectful distance. Moose are bigger and 
    faster than any person and give little warning before attacking a perceived 
    threat. Cows are extremely protective of their calves. Bulls in the rut are 
    unpredictable. No one should ever approach these animals no matter how 
    tolerant they appear. Moose are unafraid, not friendly. A moose that decides 
    someone has crossed into their "personal space" will knock down the offender 
    and kick and stomp until the threat stops moving. Remember to "Brake for 
    Moose" when driving on our highways.