The Shiras Moose has the smallest body and antlers of any North American moose and it is found in most all areas of western Montana. Moose prefer evergreen wooded areas with hills, swamps and openings bordering lakes and rivers, generally with a seasonal snow cover. In summer, they are often found high in the mountains (even above tree line) to escape biting insects. They migrate in the fall to lower elevations.
The moose is North America’s largest deer and grows the largest antlers. It’s body color is a rusty yellowish-brown, with a pale brownish saddle. It is a huge, awkward-looking animal with a large hump on its shoulders, very long legs and massive, palmate antlers. Despite its ungainly appearance, the moose is nimble, surefooted and it is able to cross swamps and quicksand where other animals would mire. Its normal gait is a quiet, careful walk, but it can maintain a speed of 35 mph for a considerable distance. They have great endurance, and are able to run up mountainsides or through deep snow or downed timber for miles. They are also excellent swimmers.
Moose are generally solitary except when mating, or a cow with her recent offspring (as seen by the photo there are exceptions), living by itself in a small home range. Calves are born in May and June, frequently twins, though often a single and occasionally triplets. Moose mate in September and October, with bulls displaying and fighting for dominance and taking one female at a time. Bulls can be dangerous during the rut, and unarmed humans may be at risk. They are silent except during the rut, when the sexes call to each other with grunts and moans
These animals are browsers, depending on woody vegetation – notably willow, poplar, balsam, aspen and birch – eating the leaves, twigs and bark. Moose also feed on aquatic vegetation by wading into lakes and streams, often submerging completely to feed on the bottom. Their vision is poor, with stationary objects seemingly not recognized at all but their senses of smell and hearing are excellent. They are active throughout the day, but with peaks at dawn and dusk.
The moose’s principal predator is the wolf, with the grizzly bear in a lesser role. Because a number of wolves are required to bring down a moose, healthy adults are seldom attacked therefore the calves and sick or aged adults are the preferred prey.
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