27 May 2010

Moose country, Upper Peninsula

The moose (North America) or common European elk (Europe), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a "twig-like" configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates.

In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada, most of Alaska, much of New England and upstate New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, Northeastern Minnesota, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Isolated moose populations have been verified as far south as the mountains of Utah and Colorado. In 1978, a few breeding pairs were introduced in western Colorado, and the state's moose population is now more than 1,000. In Europe, moose are found in large numbers throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States. They are also widespread through Russia. Small populations remain in Poland (Biebrza Nat. Park), Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Moose were successfully introduced on Newfoundland in 1904 where they are now the dominant ungulate, and somewhat less successfully on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ten moose were introduced in Fiordland, New Zealand, in 1910. At one time this population was thought to have died off, but sightings have been reported, and in fact moose hair samples were found by a New Zealand scientist in 2002. In 2008, two moose were reintroduced into the Scottish Highlands. There are plans for dozens more of the animals to be shipped to Scotland by spring 2010

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