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Montana Field Guides

Moose - Alces americanus

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


 

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Coat dark brown to black; large overhanging snout; pendant "bell" under throat; antlers massive and flat; tail short; bulls (largest antlered animals in the world) weigh 800 to 1,200 lbs. cows 600 to 800 lbs. Usually solitary but may congregate during rut or on excellent winter range; at home in water, may submerge for 3 to 4 minutes, or swim for miles; cows very protective of calves.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Montana Distribution


Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1960

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Often uses separate summer and winter ranges. Movements prompted by temperature and snow depth.

Habitat
Variable. In summer, mountain meadows, river valleys, swampy areas, clearcuts. In winter, willow flats or mature coniferous forests. Best ability of any Montana ungulate to negotiate deep snow. Coniferous cover, uneven plant age composition and willows important components. Some Moose may be yearlong willow flat residents (Stone 1971). Closed canopy stands may be important in late winter (Mattson 1985).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Browse, including large saplings; aquatic vegetation. Varies between ranges. Winter: willow, serviceberry, chokecherry and redosier dogwood. In spring and summer, increased forb use (up to70% of diet). Some populations use aquatic vegetation overall. Sub-climax seral deciduous browse important (Stone 1971).

Ecology
In Yaak River drainage used clearcuts, small cuts and cuts logged 15 to 30 years ago more than expected (Mattson and Despain 1985). Because Moose primarily use browse, frequently willow, competition with cattle usually minimal.

Reproductive Characteristics
Breed in late September and early October; shed antlers in December or January; one or two russet-brown young without spots. Where Moose are scarce, both sexes travel extensively looking for mates; in other areas, both sexes form breeding groups. Bulls fight for cows; females usually breed when 2 1/2 years old, but may breed as yearlings on good range. Ovulation rates 48/100 yearlings, 115/100 adult cows. Pregnancy rates 32/100 yearlings, 16/100 adult cows, twinning rates 0/100 yearlings, 16/100 adult cows; rate of increase similar to other areas.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Anonymous. 1931. Moose-elk in Montana. Calif. Fish and Game. 17: 198.
    • Anonymous. 1942. Grizzly bear, mountain goat, and moose survey. Flathead and Kootenai Management Units. Montana Fish and Game Department. Special Rep. 27 pp.
    • Anonymous. 1942. Hellroaring-Slough Creek moose investigation. Montana Fish and Game Comm., 1941-42 Biennial Report.
    • Anonymous. 1953. Caribou on the Yaak. Montana Wildlife. August.
    • Anonymous. 1962. Censusing moose by helicopter. Montana Wildlife. January.
    • Atwell, G. 1964. Wolf predation on calf moose. J. Mammal. 45:313-314.
    • Baggs, K. 1977. Field inventory of wildlife resources. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Wales Creek Interdisci-plinary Team Resource Analysis, WICHE Project 0117, Boulder, CO. 35 pp.
    • Boggs, Keith., , Field inventory of wildlife resources . . . WICHE Proj. No. D117. Spec. Oc./Habitat Type.
    • Bruns, E. H. 1977. Winter behavior of pronghorns in relation to habitat. J. Wildl. Manage. 41:560-571.
    • Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., 1990, Stillwater Chromite Project Baseline Data Report: Hydrology and Wildlife Monitoring, Hydrology - November 1988 through November 1989, Wildlife - November 1988 through February 1990. June 30, 1990
    • Chadde, S., and C. Kay. 1988. Willows and moose: a study of grazing pressure, Slough Creek enclosure, Montana, 1961-1986.
    • Dorn, R. D. 1969. Relations of moose, cattle and willows in southwestern Montana. Unpublished thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 79 pp.
    • Dorn, R. D. 1970. Moose and cattle food habits in southwest Montana. J. Wildl. Manage. 34:559-564.
    • Douglass, R. J. 1984. Distribution of elk, mule deer and moose in the vicinity of the proposed Beal project in western Montana. Unpubl. Rep., Montoro Gold Co., Reno, Nevada.
    • ECON, Inc., Helena, MT., 1987, Wildlife and habitat characterization, Paupers Dream Mine Project Site, Lewis & Clark and Jefferson Counties, Montana. June 25, 1987. In Pangea Mining Co., Inc., Paupers Dream Project.
    • Eng, R.L., and R.J. Mackie, 1996, Supplemental wildlife data collection: McDonald Gold Project.
    • Farmer, Patrick J., and Thomas W. Butts, Western Technology & Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, McDonald Project Terrestrial Wildlife Study, November 1989 - November 1993. April 1994. In McDonald Gold Project: Wildlife & Fisheries. [#18]. Seven-up Pete Joint Venture, Lincoln, MT. Unpub. No date.
    • Farmer, Patrick. J., et al., Western Technology and Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1984, Montana Tunnels Project Baseline Terrestrial Wildlife Study. December 14, 1984. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit, Montana Tunnels Project, Jefferson County, Montana. Vol. 3. Environmental Baseline Reports. (Centennial Minerals, Inc., Hydrometrics, 1984?)
    • Foresman, K. R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammologists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 p.
    • Franzmann, A. W. 1981. Alces alces. American Society of Mammalogists, Lawrence, KS. Mammalian Species No. 154:1-7.
    • Gaab, J. E., and B. Neal. 1948. Moose survey Upper Gallatin-Tom Miner Basin area. Montana Fish and Game Dept., P-R Quarterly Report. January-March:77-94.
    • Gasaway, W. C., et al. 1989. Response of radio-collared moose to a large burn in central Alaska. Can. J. Zool. 67:325-329.
    • Harry, G.B. 1955. Winter food habits of moose in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. M.S. thesis. C.S.U., Fort Collins, Colo. 98 pp.
    • Hoffmann, R. S. and D. L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 p.
    • HOUSTON, D. B., 1968, THE SHIRAS MOOSE IN JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
    • Jellison, W. L. 1936. The occurrence of the cestode, Moniezia benedeni (Anaplocephalidae) in the American moose. Proc. Helminthol. Soc. 3: 16.
    • Jellison, W. L. 1953. Brucellosis in a moose, Alces americanus. J. Wildt. Manage. 17:217-218.
    • Knowlton, F. F. 1960. Food habits, movements, and populations of moose in the Gravelly Mountains, Montana. J. of Wildl. Manage. 24:162-170.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Camp Creek, Sula, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.039. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Luthy, F. M. and F. C. Zwickel. 1949. Summer food habits of the moose in Glacier National Park. Unpubl. Rep., Montana State University, Flathead Biological Station, Polson. 15 pp.
    • Mack J. A., and F. J. Singer. 1992. Predicted effects of wolf predation on Northern range elk, mule deer, and moose using POP-II models. Pp. 4-43 to 4-70 in Varley, I. D.' and W. G. Brewster, eds. Wolves for Yellowstone? A report to the United States Congress, vol. IV, Research and Analysis. Natl. Park Serv., Yellowstone National Park, WY. 749 pp.
    • Mack, I. A., F. J. Singer, and M. E. Messaros. 1990. The ungulate prey base for wolves in Yellowstone National Park II: elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats in the areas adjacent to the park. Pp. 2-41 to 2218 in Wolves for Yellowstone A report to the United States Congress, Vol. 2, Research and Analysis. Natl. Park Serv., Yellowstone National Park, WY.
    • Martin, Steve A., ECON, Inc., Helena, MT., 1982, Flathead Project Wildlife Report, 1981-1982. November 30, 1982.
    • Matchett, M. R. 1985. Habitat selection by moose in the Yaak River drainage, northwestern Montana. Alces 21: 161-189.
    • Matchett, M. R. 1985. Moose-habitat relationships in the Yaak River drainage, northwestern Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 229 pp.
    • Mattson, D. J. and D. G. Despain. 1985. Grizzly bear habitat component mapping handbook for the Yellowstone ecosystem. Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team: National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, May 1985. 37 pp.
    • McDowell, L., and M. Marshall. 1942. Montana moose survey-Hellroaring, Buffalo, Slough Creek Unit. Montana Fish and Game Dept., Job Compl. Rep. 70 pp.
    • McMillan, J. F. 1953. Measures of association between moose and elk on feed grounds. J. WildI. Manage. 17:162-166.
    • McMillan, J. F. 1954. Summer home range and population size of moose in Yellowstone National Park. University of Wichita Bull. U. Studies No. 28. 16 pp.
    • McMillan, J.F. 1953. Some feeding habits of moose in Yellowstone National Park. Ecology 34:102-110.
    • McMillan, J.F. 1954. Some observations on moose in Yellowstone Park. Amer. Midland Nat. 52:392-399.
    • Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 1945-1992. Annual moose hunting and harvest statistics. Helena.
    • Montana Outfitters & Guides Association. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks., 2000, Predator management in Montana. Symposium proceedings, January 8, 2000.
    • Mussehl, T.W. and F.W. Howell (eds.). 1971. Game management in Montana. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, Mont. 238 pp.
    • OEA Research, Helena, MT., 1982, Beal Mine Wildlife Report. June 17, 1982.
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    • Peek, J. M. 1962. Moose! Largest of Montana's big game. Montana Wildlife. January:26-29.
    • Peek, J. M. 1962. Studies of moose in the Gravelly and Snowcrest Mountains, Montana. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 26(4):360-365.
    • Peek, J. M. 1963. Appraisal of a moose range in southwestern Montana. J. Rng. Mgmt. 16(5):227-231.
    • Peek, J. M. 1963. Big game surveys and investigations - appraisal of Gravelly Snowcrest Mountains moose ranges. Montana Fish and Game Dept. Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-73-R-8, Job A-I (multilith).
    • Peek, J.M. 1961. Reproduction of moose in southwestern Montana. M.S. Thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 30 pp.
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    • Stevens, D. R. 1966. Moose population and forage inventories in southwestern Montana -- Ruby Study Area. Montana Dept. of Fish and Game. Job Compi. Rep., Job No. B-13, Proj. W-98-R-6. 8 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Moose — Alces americanus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMALC03010
 
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