(Alces alces) No animal is more closely associated with Maine than the moose–in fact, it’s the official state animal. Thanks to abundant habitat, particularly in the less populated areas of the state, moose populations thrive in Maine. They often favor the wetlands around rivers, lakes, and ponds, where they dine on water plants during the summer months.
The moose (Alces alces) is the largest member of the deer family–mature bulls stand 7 feet tall at the shoulder, on average, and weigh about 1200 lbs. Cows are generally smaller. During summer and fall the bulls sport massive, flattened, palmate antlers with many points. Bulls shed these antlers in late fall/early winter and grow new larger ones.
The rut, or mating season, occurs in late September and early October. Calves are born in the spring, and many cows give birth to twins.
The moose is well-adapted to Maine winters–their long noses are lined on the inside with small blood vessels designed to warm the frosty air before it reaches the lungs. A moose’s winter coat is a superb insulator, with a wool-like underlayer and very long, hollow hairs that conserve body heat.
While their vision is not exceptional,they have an extraordinary sense of hearing and smell. They’re also known to have a low tolerance for heat, seeking shade during the heat of the day or wallowing in rivers and lakes.
Moose hunting was outlawed in Maine in 1935 after the animals were nearly gone, but the state began a limited one-week October moose hunting season in 1980 after numbers recovered.