Species Spotlight -The Canadian Moose

The moose is the largest species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. They have a life span of 15 to 25 years and can grow in size of 550Kilos to 700 kilos and stand six feet at thie-r shoulders and extend to almost 9 feet tall to the tips of their antlers.

Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Moose used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities greatly reduced it over the years. Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are wolves, bears, and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.

In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada (excluding the arctic), most of Alaska, northern New England and upstate New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, northern Minnesota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Within this massive range, the most diverse range of subspecies exist, containing habitat for four of the six subspecies. In western portions of the continent, moose populations extend well north into Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) and more isolated groups have been verified as far south as the mountains of Utah and Colorado and as far west as the Lake Wenatchee area of the Washington Cascades. The range includes Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and smaller areas of Washington and Oregon. In 1978, a few breeding pairs were reintroduced in western Colorado, and the state's moose population is now more than 1,000 with great potential to grow. In the 1940s, an effort was made to introduce moose to the Oregon Coast  Range, but this effort failed due to the hunting activities of the local Native American population.

In North-eastern North America, the Eastern moose's history is very well documented: moose meat was often a staple in the diet of Native Americans going back centuries and it is a tribe that occupied present day coastal Rhode Island that gave this deer its distinctive name in American English. The Native Americans often used moose hides for leather and its meat as an ingredient in pemmican, a type of dried jerky used as a source of sustenance in winter or on long journeys from home. Eastern tribes also valued moose leather as a source to make moccasins and other decorations.

The historical range of the subspecies extended from well into Quebec, the Maritimes, and Eastern Ontario south to include all of New England finally ending in the very north-eastern tip of Pennsylvania in the west, cutting off somewhere near the mouth of the Hudson River in the east. The moose has been extinct in much of the eastern U.S. for as long as 150 years, due to colonial era overhunting and destruction of its habitat: Dutch, French, and British colonial sources all attest to its presence in the mid 17th century from Maine south to areas within a hundred miles of present day Manhattan. However, by the 1870s, only a handful of moose existed in this entire region in very remote pockets of forest; less than 20% of suitable habitat remained.

Since the 1980s, however, moose populations have rebounded, thanks to regrowth of plentiful food sources, abandonment of farmland, better land management, cleanup of pollution, and natural dispersal from the Canadian Maritimes and Quebec. South of the Canadian border Maine has most of the population with a 2012 headcount of about 76,000 moose.

In 2014 we will be headed to areas where Moose reside. Please consider joining us for one of our Canadian Workshops. See those workshops here. http://northof49photography.com/photo-workshops/

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Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: www.kevinpepperphotography.com