Our Wild Neighbors

Moose

Alces alces

A giant occasionally seen in certain Canadian cities

Image of a moose, mounted and seen from a front three-quarter view with its head to the left, with grass to its right.

Description of the animal

  • The largest of the Cervidae, and the most imposing animal in North America. Bulls weigh up to 600 kg, and males of the giant Alaska-Yukon subspecies, up to 800 kg.
  • Massive, compact head with a long, arched nose ending in a flexible, protruding upper lip.
  • Pendant of fur-covered skin often present under the throat.
  • Imposing antlers on the males, with a span that sometimes exceeds 150 centimetres.
  • Massive body, drooping shoulders, flat flanks, short tail, and long, slim legs ending in cloven hooves.
  • Coat colour varying from dark brown, almost black, to reddish or greyish brown.

Habitat and needs

  • Found in mixed forests from British Columbia to Newfoundland.
  • In summer eats leaves, and herbaceous and aquatic plants. In winter, eats branches, twigs, and bark. The Moose’s need for salt increases in spring.
  • An agile swimmer. It dives under water to pull plants from lake bottoms.
  • Sports a rack. Antlers begin to grow mid-summer and attain their full span in early September. The antlers fall off before the following spring.
  • Grows rapidly, gaining about 140 kg in the first six months of life.
  • Active mostly at dawn and dusk, but often moves about at night.
  • Leads a solitary life in summer, but joins others in winter to form a group of two to eight individuals in wooded areas called “yards.”
  • Goes through an intense mating period. During the rut, the cow bawls to attract males. The bull produces short, raucous, grunting sounds, rubs its antlers on trees, paws the wet ground with its hooves, urinates, and wallows in it.
  • Walks a lot to flee from flies.

Relationship

  • Hunted for its meat, the Moose is a valuable economic resource.
  • Found in forests damaged by fire or clear cutting.
  • The Moose counteracts reforestation efforts and has a negative impact on the wood industry.
  • It sometimes wanders into cities during rutting season or when trying to escape mosquitoes in summer.
  • Attracted by road salt, the Moose is often a highway accident victim.
  • The placement of salt licks in the forest keeps it away from highways.

Living with them

  • Drivers must be wary of the sale of gadgets that promise to ensure driver road safety. Caution is needed at dawn and dusk, especially in June and July, as well as October and November.
  • Problems and accidents can be prevented by fencing access to roads.
  • Most hunters know that the Moose has an excellent sense of sound and smell. There is no point in following its trail; the hunter must walk against the dominant wind to surprise the moose.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen