Another moose roaming Iowa | News, Sports, Jobs
Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family. And periodically, a moose becomes disoriented for mostly unknown reasons and is found wandering the country of cornfields far from its natural habitats further north in Canada, the Rocky Mountains or Alaska. So now Iowa is making headlines for a momentum that winds its way through the northwestern state.
There are four subspecies of moose. The largest is the Alaskan moose. Most of Canada is known for the Northwestern moose. Eastern Canada has – drum roll please – the Eastern Moose, and in the Rocky Mountains there is a subspecies called the Shiras Moose. I can only assume that the current moose getaway in Iowa is a stray creature from either northern North Dakota or northern Minnesota.
Interestingly, moose are called “elk” in Europe. The original name is derived from the word “Moush”, “stripper and bark eater” in the Algonquin language of the Montagnais Indians (Innu) of Quebec, Canada. Other Indian groups called the animal “mooing” Where “mus” which also means twig eater.
All moose have large ears that can rotate 180 degrees. The nose is long and bulbous. The animal can graze and graze submerged aquatic plants. Its legs are long, so its body is large and its eyesight is not the best, but its sense of smell is excellent. The smallest moose is the Shiras, and a mature bull will tip the scales at around 1,400 pounds. A mature Shiras moose cow will weigh around 1,000 pounds. Their long legs can allow them to run up to 35 miles per hour.
Moose, like other members of the deer family, do not have upper incisors. They are considered navigators and prefer grasslands and wetlands with grasses, sedges, herbs, shrubs and aquatic plants. When available, lichens will also be eaten. For bull moose, they put a lot of energy into a new set of antlers each year. And males have a unique growth pattern with large, flat paddles surrounded by spikes. Male moose can clash with opponents of similar size or engage in pushing combat that exemplifies their enormous power. A winner is usually determined when one of the males gives up.
The maximum breeding age for bull moose is 4 to 5 years. Their lifespan in the wild is set at 10 to 15 years. The main predators are black bears and wolves. Parasites can be a big problem in some habitats with winter tick infestations. Giant liver fluids can also disrupt a moose’s lifespan, and an arterial worm has been documented in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. This arterial worm is transmitted by biting flies. The worm blocks the blood supply to the optic nerve, ears, brain, and carotid artery. Another pest of eastern moose is the meningeal worm, which hosts white-tailed deer.
For female moose, gestation is a period of 230 days with calves, usually one but sometimes twins, born in late May or early June. A calf will weigh around 25 to 35 pounds at birth. A diet rich in milk allows the calf to gain two kilograms per day. Weaning occurs in five months when a calf now weighs 300 to 400 pounds. Calves stay with their mother until she gives birth the following year. Then the one-year-old is summarily dismissed and ends up getting the message across on his own.
Because the moose’s body is so large, they prefer temperatures where the air is 50 degrees or less. A large body is more efficient in its relative ability to retain heat. So when a moose reaches southern latitudes, it can become too stressed out from too much heat.
Marshall and Tama counties had a wandering moose in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It was caught illegally and conservation officers issued citations after investigation. Unfortunately, Iowa law at the time did not specifically address moose except generally as a deer family, and the penalty was low. The law was improved the following year by the Iowa Legislature.
This bull moose has been ridden and used for educational purposes at Springbrook State Park Conservation Education Center for several years. Moose Mountain subsequently found a new home at the Lake Otter Creek Park Conservation Center in Tama County.
Thanksgiving arrives next week, November 25. If you are wondering why you should be grateful, the list can get really long. And many people will go out of their way to make this day special for friends, family, and even complete strangers. Giving people hope is one of the most cherished things people can do. Long ago, our ancestors and mothers understood the difficulty of living in a new country called America. They worked hard for a living and gave thanks each fall for the life-giving foods accordingly. It is an honorable act that continues in a grand manner. Here’s to you and yours for a happy Thanksgiving season.
In a few weeks, on December 4, the Iowa deer hunters shotguns will be out. By the end of the second shotgun season on December 19, nearly 100,000 white-tailed deer will be removed from the population. This is in accordance with Iowa’s Big Game Species Management Plans. Each year, at least as many deer must be removed from the state herd. This number is a balance between the carrying capacity of the earth and what is perceived to be the social carrying capacity, or what people are prepared to live with.
Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in fish and wildlife biology.
Contact him at:
P.O. Box 96
Albion, IA 50005