Alces alces shirasi
Twin Moose and Mother

Moose are relatively common in the northern Rocky Mountains and can be found along the creeks and streams of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes, they can be seen browsing at the edge of the forest below the Centennial Mountains.

Moose are readily identified by their large size, the palmate shaped antlers (lobe-like instead of branching) of the bull moose, and their dark brown color.

Moose are actually the largest existing member of the deer family and the largest antlered mammal in the world.  A mature male moose is referred to as a bull; a mature female moose is a cow; and an immature moose of either sex is a calf.

They are herbivores, eating both land and aquatic vegetation. The adults need to consume almost 10,000 calories from almost 70 lbs of food per day. They get this food from forbs (like wildflowers) and other non-grasses, and the fresh shoots of trees like the willow and birch. In the refuge, several willow species line the many streams and provide good nutrition for the moose.

 Bull moose are polygamous, often mating with several cows in late September and early October. The bull moose often battles for the cows. Females gestate for about 8 months, giving birth in May or June. They usually have one calf, but sometimes twins are born. The young calves stay with their mother until the next breeding period. The female moose is very protective of her young and will charge a human if they consider the calf in danger.

Moose drop their antlers after the mating season in the early winter. This conserves energy and allows them to navigate through the forest easier. They regrow the antlers every spring. The antlers grow to maturity in 4 to 5 months.

Moose are at home in water and are good swimmers, and can actually stay submerged for up to 4 minutes.

In summer moose inhabit the high mountain meadows, river valleys, swampy areas, and clearcuts. In winter, they will more likely been seen in willow flats or mature coniferous forests. They have the best ability of any ungulate to negotiate deep snow. That's important in an area like the refuge that has up to 3 feet of snow in winter.

Moose do not have any upper front teeth, but instead they have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid them in the eating of woody vegetation, like the willows. Moose have six pairs of large, flat molars and, in front of those, six pairs of premolars, to grind up their food. A moose's upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between fresh shoots and harder twigs, and the lip is prehensile, for grasping their food.

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Facts About Moose

Facts about Elk:  

  Diet Herbivore

  Size 5-7 feet tall, 

    Male: 840-1500 lbs 

    Female: 440-790 lbs

    Lifespan15–25 years 

  Social Structure: Solitary