Alces alces gigas
Alce de Alaska-Yukon (Sp), Alaska Elch (G), Elan du Alaska (F).
DESCRIPTION The largest of all moose. The largest bulls stand 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 feet (2.0 to 2.3 m) at the top of the hump and have been estimated to weigh as much as 1,800 pounds (815 kg), although it is doubtful if many exceed 1,400 pounds (635 kg). (Understandably, few wild moose are ever weighed whole.) The heaviest weights actually recorded for Alaska moose in one piece are 1,310 pounds (595 kg) for a male and 1,080 pounds (490 kg) for a female. The overall coloration is blackish, with a rusty brown saddle area.
BEHAVIOR Solitary except when mating, or a cow with her recent offspring, living by itself in a small home range. Not territorial. Mates in September and October, with bulls displaying and fighting for dominance and taking one female at a time. Bulls can be dangerous during the rut, and unarmed humans may be at risk. Calves are born in May and June, frequently twins, though often a single and occasionally triplets. Females can breed until about 18 years of age. Maximum longevity is 27 years.
A browser, depending on woody vegetation-notably willow, poplar, balsam, aspen and birch-eating leaves, twigs and bark. Feeds on aquatic vegetation by wading into lakes and streams, often submerging completely to feed on the bottom. Vision is poor, with stationary objects seemingly not recognized at all. Senses of smell and hearing are excellent. Active throughout the day, but with peaks at dawn and dark. Despite it ungainly appearance, the moose is nimble and surefooted. Able to cross swamps and quicksand where other animals would mire. Its normal gait is is a quiet, careful walk, but can maintain a speed of 35 mph (56 km/h) for a considerable distance. Has great endurance, able to run up mountainsides or through deep snow or downed timber for miles. An excellent swimmer. Silent except during the rut, when sexes call to each other with grunts and moans. Principal predator is the wolf, with grizzly in a lesser role. As number of wolves are required to bring down a moose, healthyadults are often attacked; calves and sick or aged adults are not necessarily preferred prey.
DISTRIBUTION Alaska, Yukon, and the Mackenzie Mountains in the far west of the Northwest Territories.