Moose live in the extreme northern part of Minnesota, mostly in the rugged terrain of the northeastern counties and in the boggy lowlands north and west of the Red lakes.

Unfortunately their numbers in Minnesota have been declining over the past 10 years; the majority of mortality appears to be related to disease and parasites, possibly brought on by a warming climate.

Calves of moose are born in May or June, following a gestation period of about eight months. The calves are a dull reddish-brown and weigh about 30 pounds. The mother hides her calf (or twin calves) in the forest for a few days until it is strong enough to follow her. Each young moose remains with its mother until the following spring when, just before she is ready to calve again, she drives it away.

Averaging 950 to 1,000 pounds, and sometimes exceeding 1,200 pounds, with a length of 9-10 feet and at their shoulders about 6-feet tall, the moose is the largest member of the deer family.

I encounter their big tracks in the Arrowhead area but seldom see one. Bulls carry flat, palmated antlers that begin growing in April and are shed in December, January or a bit later. Moose have poor eyesight but acute senses of smell and hearing.

Moose eat from a variety, including willow, red-osier dogwood and balsam fir. During the summer they also feed on aquatic plants. The moose is a strong swimmer; they can easily swim 10 miles without stopping, and have been known to dive to depths of 18 feet in search of underwater plants.

 

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays.