The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family. Moose are huge. On the average, an adult moose
stands 6’ to 7’ (1.8 – 2.1 m) high at the shoulder! Males (“bulls”) weigh between 850 and 1,580 lbs. (380–720 kg) and females (“cows”) weigh between 600 and 800 lbs. ( 270–360 kg). The largest known moose, a bull moose, was shot at
the Yukon River in September, 1897. It weighed 1,800 pounds (1,618 kg) and was 7’ 8” tall (233 cm) at the shoulder.
Each of the antlers of an adult bull moose averages between 3.9’ and 4.9’ (1.2 m and 1.5 m) across, but can grow as
large as 5.8’ (1.8 m) across. Moose antlers are shaped like the broad palm of a hand with extended fingers, unlike the antlers of the other members of the deer family, which grow in a way that resemble tree branches. Moose antlers are made of bone and are grown, shed and regrown every year. The male will drop its antlers after the autumn mating
season to conserve energy for the winter. A new set of antlers will begin to regrow in the spring. Moose antlers take only 3 to 5 months to fully develop from little buds, making them one of the fastest growing animal organs. They have
a fuzzy skin on their surface, called felt, which peels away when the antlers become fully grown. Immature bulls may not shed their antlers for the winter and will retain them until the following spring.
Moose are hunted by humans as a game species in many countries. “Moose meat tastes,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in The Maine Woods, “like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor; sometimes like veal.” While moose meat has similar protein levels to other red meats, such as beef, deer and elk, it has a low fat content and the fat that exists is made up of a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fats, rather than saturated fats. Oddly, the most serious threat to a moose population is from the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus
virginianus). In regions of North America where white-tailed deer populations overlap with moose populations,
moose frequently develop a fatal illness commonly known as moose disease.