MIDWESTERN MOOSE } Alces alces andersoni

FAMILY: Cervidae

DESCRIPTION: Moose are characterized by their massive heads and antlers; short tails; long noses; powerful bodies; a hump on their shoulders; and large, rotating ears. Their brown summer and winter coats are shed twice a year, in spring and fall. Males have large sets of antlers, as well as a long floppy “dewlap” or “bell” that hangs below their throat, and are more than 40 percent larger than females. The midwestern moose is the second-largest and lightest in color of the four subspecies of North American moose; it also has the second-largest and most palmated antlers.

HABITAT: Habitat selection is primarily governed by forage availability. Moose often inhabit forests with more cover to avoid late summer heat and deep snow in harsh winters, and they select the habitats with the best combination of cover and food quality to use as calving sites. They can occupy the same range throughout the year or migrate between summer and winter habitats, depending on the weather and their residence. Moose that occupy flat terrain move from habitat with aspen or willow stands in the summer to dense conifer forest in the winter.
RANGE: Midwestern moose are found in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Canada.

BREEDING: Moose are primarily solitary creatures that only mingle when it comes time for mating or migration. Moose are seasonally polyestrus, and their breeding season, or rut, is from early September to late October, peaking in late September and early October. Females' maximum reproductive potential is from years four to 12.

LIFE CYCLE: The lifespan of an average moose is approximately 15–25 years.

FEEDING: Moose are herbivores that eat leaves, stems, buds, grasses, forbs, lichens, mosses and mushrooms.  
THREATS: Midwestern moose are threatened by modification and disturbance of habitat due to human development and climate change, high prevalence of disease from parasites, malnutrition, overheating, vehicular collisions, and an already small population size.

POPULATION TREND: There are five main populations of moose in the U.S. Midwest, as well as one recently established small population. These are the northeastern and northwestern Minnesota populations, the northeastern North Dakota population, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan population, the Isle Royale population and the Wisconsin population (recently established). All populations have or are expected to experience significant decline, with the exception of the small population in Wisconsin that recently emigrated from Michigan. In the past 10 years Minnesota's moose population has dropped by 58 percent. There are roughly 3,450 moose surviving in Minnesota today; however, the Moose Advisory Committee has warned they might be extirpated from the state by 2020 if trends are not reversed.  
Photo ("Moose Dawn") by Steve Wall/Flickr