Beringia's Journal - Archives
The Incredible Moose, getting to know them
When I saw the moose for real for the first time in Alaska, it was a true wonderment. Later I was able to see moose many more times around the house. On seeing a moose mother and ½ year old calf up close from my window on a dark winter night, I was struck by how gentle these huge creatures were, that I had nothing to fear from them, though only separated by a window pane.
One thing moose do which was a new behavior to me, was they kneel down on their front legs sometimes in order to chew on vegetation. Another thing I noticed was their extremely long legs and bony physique, like an aging skinny horse, except it is natural to them. Then they also have long ears, big flappy noses, a tuft of hair under their chin and long shaggy fur on the top of the bodies.
Once while watching a mother and calf who had come a few times, I saw that they heard sounds from the fields below and had turned their ears and attention to listen and see. They decided to leave the spot near the house and they took off, running down the sloping hill of the big yard. It was like watching prehistoric animals charging across the terrain and in fact that is what it was. Their huge bodies fled, all muscle and power, second nature to them. It was a strange juxtaposition to see them run from the house, while I stood in a warm shelter of a home at the beginning of a 21st century watching them. This is the odd situation of the current era, where humans have developed living spaces that are removed from nature, to the point that we are no longer familiar with the wild or the creatures that live there. Yet they are still our family. One thing about Alaska is nature is still dominant , so humans along with their comforts can be in close proximity to the wildest of the wild, the largest animals like the moose.
The noted authority on the deer family, biologist Valerius Geist, who wrote a wonderful book on deer including moose, says that moose came to North America after the megafaunal extinction of animals such as the wooly mammoth and saber toothed tiger, around 10,000 years ago across the Bering strait, from Siberia. Geist notes that the long nose is specialized in finding nutritious vegetation, where the moose eats tender tree branches and even forages underwater for vegetation. Moose will raise their young very closely for the first year of their lives and the young moose is greatly dependent on the affection and care of its mother.
So often on walks I take, there are fresh footprints of the ever present moose on their daily travels, though when I have caught sight of one next to a road while on a walk, they often flee quite readily.
I am excited about the wonderful large animals of Alaska and look to finding out more about their life existence and also their welfare for their own sakes. The Alaska Wildlife Alliance takes a very pro-animal approach, and hopefully in the near future will help reform the state Department of Wildlife in Alaska for wildlife’s sake. http://www.akwildlife.org/content/view/107... /.
Beringia – the land mass that many animals crossed from Siberia to North America. We humans have many bridges to cross too, toward a more enlightened way of life on earth and toward the animals, who are our family.
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