The Moose of Algonquin Park
The Mighty Moose of Algonquin
Algonquin Provincial Park, located in Ontario is home to over 3000 moose. The moose (scientific name: Alces alces) is the second largest mammal found in Ontario (only polar bears are bigger!) and can be found all over North America. There are an estimated one million moose living throughout North America.
People travel from all over the world each year to visit Algonquin Park and experience a moose sighting. Affectionately called "Moose Jams" in Algonquin Park. A moose was the first animal I spotted during one of my very first trips to Algonquin Park, which was the catalyst for my quest to experience The Algonquin Park Triad. It is also the largest and most plentiful animal found in Algonquin Park.
If you're looking to learn the best time of year for moose sightings in Algonquin Park, or simply want to learn a little bit more about these massive animals, you've come to the right place. This is the final piece in a three part series which focuses on the three biggest mammals found in Algonquin Provincial Park.
So let's get started and learn about the mighty moose!
Quick Facts About Moose
Habitat & Predators
Colour: Dark Brown, Large ears on top of their head, long snout & a dewlap that hangs from their throat (looks like a bell)
Moose are herbivores. This means their diet consists of vegetation.
There are over 3000 Moose in Algonquin Park alone.
Height: The legs on a moose can be as long as 200 cms. They are equivilant in height to a horse.
They eat an assortment of ground vegetation, leaves and twigs
Moose can be found all across North America, with an estimated population of over one million.
Weight: Male: Average 1100 lbs. Female: 935 lbs.
Can eat up to 110 lbs. of plants and leaves in one day.
In the winter Moose stay in upland areas, for dense forest protection from weather. Summer months they stay in lower land areas with lots of stagnant water available
Male Moose (Bulls) have antlers during summer months. Female Moose (Cows) do not have antlers.
During the Spring, Moose in Algonquin can be found feeding on the salty grass along the side of the highway.
Due to their size, Moose have few predators. Black Bears & Eastern Wolves in Algonquin will generally only attack a moose who is injured, or a young calf.
All About Moose Antlers
After they reach past their first year of age, male moose will begin to develop their first set of antlers. The rack of antlers on a fully developed male moose can reach an impressive six feet across in length!
So why do moose have antlers anyway?
Well, for no real good reason.. Other than winning the affections of female moose. Rather, for intimidating other male moose during their mating season (which is called the rut and happens in late autumn)
After the mating season is over, the male moose will lose his antlers (typically between November and December).Their antlers can weigh upwards of 90 pounds, so they loose them before the winter comes, in order to conserve their energy during the coldest months of the year.
This is why the"horns" of a moose are called "antlers" and not "horns" . Horns do not fall off. An animal that has horns will have them for life, they do not shed them they way moose do.
In early spring they will begin to grow a new set of antlers. They grow out from the skull and they're initially covered with a brown tissue called "velvet". During the summer months the velvet will begin to fall off. Moose will often rub their antlers against trees and rocks to help remove the velvet. This is why sometimes when you look at a photograph of a moose, their antlers look "fuzzy" and sometimes they look smooth.
They will begin growing new antlers in late spring and take between three to five months to become fully developed. The antlers of a moose are the fastest growing bones on earth.
If your child is interested in learning more about moose, or you're a teacher looking to teach your class about wildlife. The book "Moose (Our Wild World") is an excellent source of information for elementary school children.
Fun Facts About Moose
- Moose are incredibly good swimmers for such a large animal. They can dive up to five metres deep in order to find food. They can also hold their breathe for more than 30 seconds and swim distances of 16 kilometres at a time.
- The long legs of a moose helps them to be very agile on all kinds of terrain. The can also run as fast as 50 kilometres an hour!
- Moose are the largest member of the deer family.
- Moose are solitary animals and don't typically travel in herds.
- A moose can live to be well over 20 years old, though the average life span is approximately ten years.
Algonquin Park Moose Jam
The above video is from my personal library. It was taken during a trip to Algonquin Park in early summer 2012. It perfectly illustrates an Algonquin Park Moose Jam. As you can see, there were several cars parked along the highway to watch the moose. The moose was a female.
Did You Know?
The word "moose" is derived from the Algonquin word "mooswa" which translates to "twig eater"
Viewing Moose In Algonquin Park
If you've ever visited Algonquin Park in Ontario, chances are, you've spotted at least one moose during your trip. With a population of over 3000 moose living within the boundaries of the park, your chances of finding yourself a part of an Algonquin Park Moose Jam are relatively high. Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the best places to view moose in Ontario. The best time of year to experience a moose sighting in Algonquin Park is earlier in the camping season (May and June).
So what exactly is an Algonquin Park Moose Jam? It is a very common and exciting experience to be part of! In Algonquin Park, it is customary to pull over to the side of the road when you spot a moose grazing in a field or ditch along the highway 60 that runs through Algonquin Park. I have been part of Moose Jams that saw dozens of cars lined up along the road, their owners excitedly hopping out of their cars with cameras in hand to stand and enjoy watching the moose in Algonquin Park.
What Is A Moose Jam?
"Moose Jam" is a term you'll hear very often during a visit to Algonquin Park. Similar to a traffic jam, it refers to a line up of cars parked bumper to bumper along the highway. Except in this case, the cars are parked so drivers can get out of their cars and watch a moose they've spotted! (See video above for footage of an Algonquin Park Moose Jam)
Have you ever participated in a Moose Jam?
Moose Jam Etiquette
During your stay in Algonquin Park, please keep these important safety tips in mind when participating in a Moose Jam:
- Pull your car over completely to the side of the road.
- Turn your car off. Please don't idle your car. It's bad for the environment. It's bad for the people standing near by and it may spook any wildlife in the area.. including the moose.
- Turn your hazards lights on. The highway 60 is a busy main highway and transports travel through here regularly. Hazard lights help let truck drivers and other campers know they're approaching a moose jam and should slow down. An average of 30 moose are killed in Algonquin Park each year (and as many vehicles destroyed). Always use caution and reduce your speed when approaching a moose jam.
- Keep your distance. Moose are not aggressive and it is safe for you to get out of your car to look at them. However, give them their space. These are animals that weigh over 1000 pounds. You don't want to scare them. The best indicator that you're getting too close is their ears. If a moose thinks you're too close, they'll put their ears back.
- Control your children. If you're camping with little one's, consider watching the moose from the safety of your vehicle. If you can't see them from the car and want to get out, please make sure your children are not being loud and running around. This may spook the moose. He'll either leave (thereby ruining the Moose Jam) or get spooked and run into the road, potentially causing an accident.
- Be quiet. Spotting a moose in Algonquin Park is a very exciting experience, but keep your voice to a whisper so as not to spook him. The goal is to enjoy observing a moose in his natural habitat, not scare or disturb him.
- Stay as long as you like and take as many photo's as you can. But when you're ready to get back on the road, be mindful that other's may still be standing around watching him. Drive slowly and cautiously. Don't return back to the speed limit until you're clear of the area where the moose jam is.
Algonquin Provincial Park is home to over 3000 moose.
For More Information
If you'd like more information about booking a trip to Algonquin Provincial Park, The Friends of Algonquin Park Web-Site is chalked full of all the details you'll need to plan a trip to the park.
If you'd like to learn more about moose, you can visit The Science Behind Algonquin's Animals for more moose facts, including details about moose research in Algonquin.
If you have any questions about Algonquin Park or it's moose, comments or you'd like to share your own moose jam stories, please leave them in the comments section below!
About The Author
JessBraz is in the middle of a lifelong love affair with Algonquin Provincial Park. She has been "moose jamming" with her camping partner and husband, Jason since 2007. She is the proud owner of a very silly and slightly obnoxious Moose hat. She has written other articles dedicated to the wildlife of Algonquin Park and plans to publish more in the future.