Weighing 800 to 1,200 pounds or more, the moose is the largest member of the deer family in the world. The moose may look awkward or ungainly, but it can move quickly and quietly through the forest and enjoys a good swim in the many lakes of New England. Moose, other than a cow and her calves, are usually solitary animals, except in the summer months when they travel in small herds of up to eight moose. Hikers most often encounter moose on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where they are seen feeding in the many ponds near the Trail http://www.appalachiantrail.org/about-the-trail/plants-wildlife/mammals. Though they usually stay away from people, moose can be dangerous – some bulls have been known to attack humans especially during the mid-September to late-October mating season (if they think you are going to steal one of their women, they can be quite jealous – sounds a lot like us). http://appalachiantrail.com/advice/animals-and-insects/moose-on-the-appalachian-trail/
With extensive research and lots of common sense I have formulated four simple tips for dealing with moose in Maine: One, if you see a moose, follow it and attempt to get a closeup photo with your iPhone. If you can stand next to it so you can get yourself in the pic as well, that is optimum. Two, once you get you picture for your slideshow, be sure to scare the moose away so you can get on your way. Put your trekking poles on your head like antlers and then wave them in its face. Usually Bullwinkle will quietly turn and shrink into the woods. Three, try to time your encounter with cows in the spring when they are caring for their calves – they love to show off their newborns to thru-hikers (nothing like a proud momma). Fall is the best time to talk to the bulls. They are all dating and truly enjoy sharing about their love-life. Four, always have some treats to share with the moose. A Little Debbie Snack Cake or a Pop-Tart is a healthy change from forbs and lily pads.
Seriously, moose love a salad bar and are often seen snarfing many types of plants and fruits. According to Northwestern University, the average adult moose needs to consume 9,770 cal per day to maintain its body weight. Much of a moose’s food consists of vegetation found along the trail, like clover, sunflowers, dandelions and milkweed (I am considering renting a moose in the spring to take care of the dandelions in my back yard)) and fresh shoots from trees such as white birch, aspen, striped maple and willow. According to Mooseworld, these plants are rather low in sodium, so moose generally need to consume a good quantity of aquatic plants (lilies and pondweed) – as much as half of their diet usually consists of this aquatic plant life. http://www.mooseworld.com/diet.htm. A typical moose, weighing 800 lb, can eat up to 70 lb of food per day (now that is some salad bar!). Moose are excellent swimmers and are known to wade into water to eat the delicious pondweed. This dip in the pond also serves to cool down the moose on hot summer days and to rid the animal of pesky black flies. Moose are thus attracted to marshes and river banks during warmer months. Moose have been known to dive underwater (without a mask, I might add) to reach plants on lake bottoms. Moose are the only deer that are capable of feeding underwater. How cool would it be to see a bull with enormous horns emerge out of the water with a snack in his mouth!