Moose – finally!


I have lived in Canada for 5 years this month, and so far had not seen a moose in the wild. I travelled all the way through Northern Canada into Alaska, and despite the fact that Alaska has the highest moose population in the US, I never saw one moose – not even a whiff of one!

However, today, I finally came face-to-face with this elusive (at least to me) animal. We took our dogs out for a drive into Kananaskis Country and on our way back we spotted a cow and its calf in a field deep in snow. I must confess, I hadn’t spotted them at all, it was my other half who suddenly stopped the truck and did a u-turn, much to my surprise (even the dogs made some rather surprised noises). We managed to drive alongside them for a while, then turned off into what was probably someone’s ranch access road, and up a small hill round a bend there suddenly was the cow, just about 25m to my right side. It was so exciting, but I couldn’t help thinking that this cow might at any moment turn towards us and ram the truck, which was not a prospect I was looking forward to. Eventually she moved off, crossed the road, jumped a fence and waited for her calf to do the same. Once the calf had finally managed to jump the fence (something it was clearly still not very good at), they both galloped across a field away from us. The whole thing lasted a good 20 minutes or so, and even our dogs knew this was something special.

One thing that struck me, was how tall the cow was. Moose can have a shoulder height of up to 7-8 feet, and females on average weigh 750 pounds, with the males averaging up to 950 pound. Their front legs are longer than their back legs and they can run fairly fast, up to 35 mph and swim up to 6 mph. You know when a moose is not happy, like a dog, it’s back hairs will stand up straight.

A bull’s antlers can be as wide as 6 feet, and he sheds it every year in the winter to conserve energy.  They take about three to five months to fully regrow, making them the fastest growing animal organ. These huge antlers help to funnel sound to their ears (that was a new one on me!).

One thing I learned whilst I was in Alaska is that the word “moose” comes from an Algonquin word meaning “twig eater” – very apt, as they eat up to 50 pounds of plants in a day, much of it being flowering plants and fresh shoots from trees.

In Europe and Russia a moose is called an elk, which is causing confusion in North America, as an elk is an entirely different animal altogether over here. So, with my family being German, you can imagine the confusing conversations; I know when my family says elk they mean moose, however, my husband (whose speaks German very well), still thinks they are referring to an elk and not a moose; so lots of explanations all around  by the end of which I usually just give up and let it be. Far too exhausting – trust me, I have been through this a few times now!

The two photos below are my favourite two of the cow from today.

IMG_3431_edited-1 IMG_3452_edited-1

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Categories: Canadian Nature and Animals | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Moose – finally!

  1. Congratulations, we don’t have Moose, Elk or Caribou in Australia. So your one up on me.

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    • Thanks Ron, although I am jealous of your koalas, kangaroos and all the other animals we don’t have here! So I think you have a few on me there.

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  2. Very cool.

    I’ve always been confused about this and had to look it up. We call moose elk here, but I don’t know what we would call the animal that you call elk, which looks like a red deer but ain’t.

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    • Thanks Ivor, I still have difficulties explaining to non-north americans what an elk is; I usually stick with “very large deer”, which seems to work!

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  3. Glad that you finally saw one, and had your camera with you to photograph it too!

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    • Yes, we had specifically gone out for me to shoot some landscapes and whatever else came along – glad it was moose!

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  4. Great capture of this magnificent animal.

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  5. Jacki

    Loved seeing this elusive animal through your lens, I had no idea they were so big.

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    • Thanks for stopping by Jacki. My husband, who has seen quite a few moose since we moved here, always goes on about how big they are. Until I saw this one I wasn’t really appreciating what he meant, and according to him, this was a relatively small cow.

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  6. Congratulations on finally seeing the elusive moose! We have traveled to all sorts of moose habitats here in the States & in Canada–even places with moose-crossing signs!–including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador, Glacier and Isle Royale. In all that time, we have seen moose twice. The first time was about 20 years ago, up in the north of new Hampshire. The second was two years ago, on a back road somewhere near Canmore, Alberta, when we’d pulled over to have our lunch of cheese and crackers, and suddenly a moose cow lumbered up out of the brush. About five minutes later, she was followed by her calf. So I know how special this sighting was!

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  7. Its great you were finally able to see one and capture it with your camera! I’ve only seen one once – in Vermont. He started running alongside the car while we were on the interstate. It was quite startling and a bit scary (for fear he might jump in front of us). Death by moose is quite a problem in Maine – not sure about Vermont.

    The other things that amazes me about moose is that they are apparently great swimmers.

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  8. Tammy

    Every time we go to Colorado I am on the look out for a moose…I am so jealous! Lucky you to see one, and even luckier to get these fabulous pictures!

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  9. Wow. Seeing a moose in the wild is on my bucket list! Nice shots!

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  10. They are fascinating creature whatever they’re called! Nice find!

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  11. Pingback: Our Westies | My Journey

  12. Hi there.

    I am queueing up something for later this year and I would have a use for pictures from you. If you have any “cute” large animals (horses, ponies, etc.) in the snow, I can get the image featured. (If you have a picture with more than one of the animal in it, send that too. Just remember that my blog theme handles vertically oriented photos best.) The images can be sent to bumblepuppyblog[at]yahoo.com .

    I hope the post ends up being what you expected when you signed up…

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    • Well, the only animals in snow I have are tigers, moose (including a calf), caribou (including a calf), and I think I might have some of our two Westies. Let me know if any of these would work.

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