A Family of Moose

by Dave Hanks

A promise to our granddaughter, to take her camping without her brothers, resulted in a two night stay at Spruce’s campground in Brighton Canyon, Utah. Our campsite was located next to a beaver dam. The beavers would appear in the evening and early morning to work on the dam or to feed. We even heard them chomping away in the dark. However, the most excitement came when this cow moose and her two calves decided to browse along the side of and in the beaver dam. This happened as we arrived at our campsite, and was an auspicious beginning. Our granddaughter was very excited and spent much time around that pond, looking for the beaver and the moose family.

This largest member of the Deer family can stand 6 ˝ to 7 feet tall and bulls can weigh up to 1400 pounds – cows 1100 lbs. In summer moose are solitary but may gather at a food source in winter. In the Buffalo Valley of Wyoming, one February, we counted 85 individuals along a 5 mile drive.

Wetland shrubs, that seem to have been pruned, are a sign that moose have frequented the area. Moose are very mobile and can run at 35 miles per hour. They are also excellent swimmers, moving through the water at 6 mph. Their endurance is also good, as they can keep swimming for up to 2 hours.

The Moose rut is in September and is preceded by the shedding of the bull’s velvet. Dead velvet itches. This causes the urge to thrash it off on bushes. The thrashing, in turn, stimulates the production of testosterone. Calves are born after an 8 month gestation period.

Moose will generally move away from you, but a cow with calves can be very aggressive, even more so than a bear.