The first moose I saw this year was a thriller. We were hiking near Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park and spotted a solitary Moose grazing languidly in the water. We watched and listened, entranced as it submerged its head to grab the nutritious plants at the bottom of the pond, munching and dripping and squishing. We actually heard this large animal before we saw it. In the quiet stillness of an autumn day, the splashing caught our attention. But my next sighting of a moose was very different. Not in a National Park but rather in the small community of Swan Valley, Idaho I first saw it out of the corner of my eye during a snowy walk. It was actually more than just a snowy day. It was a winter weather advisory and we got 2-3 feet of snow, good camouflage for these large animals. What I noticed was something large and dark brown and at first thought…bear! Then my mind refocused and I thought…dog! Big dog!! Then my eyes turned their full attention and I knew…moose! In a front yard eating someone’s lovely tree. How can any gardener fend off an animal so mighty and strong? I fear for my future garden. This is somewhat more complicated than the slugs of the Pacific Northwest.
Moose are the largest member of the deer family and have an outstanding scientific name, Alces alces, which is similar to ‘elk’. These animals can live over twenty years and weigh over 1,000 pounds. That means they need a lot of food! In the summer they seek out aquatic plants and in the winter they browse on the woody stems of shrubs and tree bark. The following pictures show them caught in the act! I hope to see more Moose as I explore the National Parks this year!