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Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:46 pm
Maybe the wildlife experts can explain this. Why are there no moose in California? Were there ever Moose in California? What about the coast? Are summers too dry in the mountains? You think there would have been moose-like creatures here when the current tiny glaciers were at their maximum. Or when the Central Valley was a big swamp.
Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:13 pm
Maybe the wildlife experts can explain this. Why are there no moose in California?
This question came up before when two other naturalists joined Lizzie and me at "Moose Lake" in SEKI. We all scratched our mostly bald heads and spouted vagaries about them seeming more of a cold climate species. I'm sure you can go much deeper into this question, but I found this in a quick search:
Moose evolved in much cooler climates in boreal forests and other subarctic habitats. Generally, habitats and climates in the Sierra and elsewhere in California are not well-suited for moose.
[California Department of Fish and Wildlife, publication: 8-24-2020.]
Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:28 pm
Here's a bit more on the moose:
Moose are cold-adapted mammals with thickened skin, dense, heat-retaining coat, and a low surface:volume ratio, which provides excellent cold tolerance but poor heat tolerance. Moose survive hot weather by accessing shade or cooling wind, or by immersion in cool water. In hot weather, moose are often found wading or swimming in lakes or ponds. When heat-stressed, moose may fail to adequately forage in summer and may not gain adequate body fat to survive the winter. Also, moose cows may not calve without adequate summer weight gain.
I'm glad you brought this up Nancy, because I was reminded of a Thoreau quote that made me laugh out loud when I read it. He was following a moose hunting party through the Maine woods, and witnessed the too easy killing of a moose. Here's what he said:
But this hunting of the moose merely for the satisfaction of killing him—not even for the sake of his hide—without making any extraordinary exertion or running any risk to yourself, is too much like going out by night to some wood-side pasture and shooting your neighbor’s horses.
—The Maine Woods
Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:44 pm
Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:56 pm
When I lived in Logan Utah, I ran into a moose up on the top of the Wellsville Mountains, just west of Logan. Also ran into a 5-foot rattlesnake. Seems like these two critters need opposite ecosystems. Funny how they were on the same very small mountain range.
As far as hunter-prey, I have been on the other end of the stick more often with moose. They are very territorial. Up at Ross Lakes in the Wind Rivers, I took a short after-dinner walk with my cup of tea and nearly ran into the back side of a moose, who fortunately did not notice me because the wind direction favored me. I immediately turned around, and moved my tent under a huge jumble of downed timber; all night the moose bashed into the logs. Also had plenty of moose chase us on the snowmobile at the winter elk feed ground on the upper Green River in Wyoming. As the winter went on, they came closer and closer to our little cabin so that I could not even let the kids out to play on the porch. And a moose chased several of us off the trail coming down from the Grand Teton. Far more bad moose encounters than bad bear encounters.
Moose will migrate so even if summers get hot, they can survive as long as they can move up into the mountains when it gets hot. I suspect it has more to do with scarcity of swamps and water. I was thinking they have at one time may have been in Marble Mountain Wilderness or somewhere in northern California, or on the coast. There are impressive elk herds still on the Lost Coast. All the moose I have seen had access to lots of water, wetlands, and willows. Of course, lots of moose in Canada.
How Moose Lake in SEKI got its name, who knows? Moose do not like to go above timber nor do they like talus. I CAN picture moose in the upper Kern. Plenty of willows, and they can scoot down the Kern Canyon to get out down to better grazing in winter.
Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:16 pm
I don't know much about moose, but read an interesting book on ice ages (After the Ice Age, E.C. Pielou). Apparently, the stag moose was a larger muskeg-loving animal in North America. It became extinct when after the ice age the moose came down from Beringia. So I think the moose has only been in Northern America for a similar period of time as people! Because moose have only been here a short time, I'd ask what habitats they occupy in Europe/Asia. As far as I can tell they are not found in dry and warm climates.
Confusingly in Europe/Asia, where mooses are from, they are called elk, which of course are wapiti/elk here.
Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:30 pm
Good question, and I agree with the other posts about the heat. I've read a little bit about Moose die-offs in Alaska and it seems that they're also hit hard by ticks. Apparently long cold winters reduce the tick population, but in the absence of the harsh weather the population explodes and causes a wasting type effect on Moose. Similar to bark beetles from the sounds of it. My 2 cents.
Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:54 pm
Wandering Daisy wrote: ↑
Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:56 pm
How Moose Lake in SEKI got its name, who knows?
I used to work in the Lodgepole visitor center, and there was a book all about Sierra place names I liked to browse through during rare down time. I'm like 95% positive that Moose Lake got its name from its shape, a la Guitar Lake. But unlike Guitar Lake, it doesn't look so much like its namesake. I suppose the different arms on the east end are supposed to be the antlers, but I don't really see it.
Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 10:45 am
Moose are scary, very unpredictable animals. I'll take running into a griz/bear any day over a moose. I saw a lot of moose incidents in Glacier. Beautiful animals, here's a great photo of a photo, of one in it's natural habitat.