Have you ever wondered why some species are the embodiment of conflict?
Take the North American moose, Alces alces, the largest species in the antler shedding Deer Family, Cervidae. Where lacking in grace, they compensate in strength and attitude. Distinguished by the male’s palmate antlers, moose (and their EuroAsian relatives) lumber around boreal and mixed deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere minding their own business among wary neighbours, including humans. Endearing in their own unique way, almost comical to watch in motion, yet dangerous enough to maim or kill. Folks who share this beasts’ range know to keep out of their way when fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity. Sometimes this oversize mammal is not that obliging. Although their deadly presence gives the appearance that they thrive locally, worldwide moose populations are actually decreasing in numbers and habitat.
And who does not like a wild creature snuggled up in a coat of fur? The more the better. Their flappy upper lips and those soft brown eyes could soften the most hardened criminal. Meanwhile, the homeowner possessively grimaces as newly planted decorative trees disappear into that elongated moose mouth, one crunch at a time. Their gangly, awkward legs appear incapable of walking a straight path, yet are more than competent leaping manmade entrapments with a shovel fisted human on the chase. But always with guarded distance. You do not have to be cute to get the “Do Not Mess With Me” message out. Beauty is not a prerequisite for confidence.
So the next time you see a moose, watch for a moment and muse, if only for a few moments, at their awkward elegance, lanky poise and ability to dance inelegantly over barriers. What a mammalian wonder a moose is! Keep your distance though.
For more on North American wildlife see: