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Animal of the Month
October 2022

Name: Moose (aka Elk)

Classification:
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily:Capreolinae
Tribe: Alceini
Genus: Alces
Species: A. Alces

Number of Subspecies: 8

Characteristics:
Large, stout body with long legs and hooves, long snout, short tail, body covered in fur, dewlap under chin. Males possess large, wide antlers..

Weight: Males 835 to 1,550 lbs; Females 440 to 1,080 lbs.
Size: 4.5 to 7 feet.
Color(s): Dark brown.
Behavior: Diurnal, mostly solitary, semi-aquatic, unpredictable when agitated.
Preferred Habitat: Mountainous forests and scrublands. Also wet areas including marshlands, bogs, rivers, and lakes.
Range: Canada, Northern United States, Russia, various European and Asian countries.
Diet:Shrubs, tall grass, aquatic plants.
Lifespan: 15 to 20 years

Status: Least Concern

Are you known by different names or nicknames in different social circles? The moose can relate! In North America, the animal A. Alces is known as a moose, but in Europe, they're known as an elk! Either way, these creatures are the largest living species of deer! They are found across the northern hemisphere, including the wilderness of Canada, Russia, the United States, Scandinavia, and many other Asian and European countries.

Moose are mostly solitary creatures. They usually keep to themselves, except during the breeding season. Moose are versatile in that they live in different ecosystems depending on the time of year. During the winter months, they prefer snowy areas, which are harder for predators to access. During summer months, they keep cool in wet places like rivers, lakes and marshes. Moose are vegetarians, feeding on shrubs, tall grasses, and when possible aquatic plants. Their most prominent feature are the antlers males sport, which are the largest of any deer species!

Moose are generally not aggressive, but if they feel threatened, they can become quite agitated. Moose defend themselves by charging, kicking, and (if they're male) using their antlers. Enraged moose have been documented unleashing their fury on anything nearby, even if that animal or person wasn't harassing them in the first place! Sounds like someone needs anger management!

From September-through-October, male moose will bellow loudly to attract mates. Males will fight each other for the right to reproduce. After mating, the female will give birth in the spring to one or two calves. Each calve is born weighing thirty pounds, and after only five days they are capable of outrunning a human! Calves will stay with their mother until the next mating season, at which point they will go on their own.

Moose are classed as Least Concern, meaning their numbers globally are strong. There are certain populations, however, that are declining. A major concern is habitat destruction, over-hunting, and accidental collisions with cars. An unexpected threat to moose populations is climate change. Warmer weather can make moose overheat. Heat waves also are causing ticks to appear in greater numbers, which are not only uncomfortable for moose but can kill due to anemia.

Despite the challenges, there's plenty of hope for these beautiful animals. Much of the moose's habitat has been preserved, and there are restrictions in place for hunting depending on the location. Scientists across the world are also working on ways to reverse or reduce climate change through renewable energy and other methods. It will take a multi-pronged effort, but there is hope that the majestic moose has a future to roam through.

To learn more about these "elk", check out the links below:

National Wildlife Federation, Moose Page-Check out what the National Wildlife Federation is doing for the moose!
https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Moose

Wildlife Conservation Society, Moose Page-The Wildlife Conservation Society has launched an effort to protect the moose of New York!
https://www.wcs.org/our-work/species/moose

Want to help keep things cool for the moose? You can make a big impact by…

…driving less! Consider walking or biking rather than burning gas.
…turning the heater down! Lower your heater a bit and wear sweaters inside.
…eating less meat! Meat production is a major carbon polluter!
…unplug phone chargers! Even if your phone isn't charging, chargers take up power in the socket!


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