Moose in an Alaskan neighborhood by Karen Laubenstein- US Fish and Wildlife (public domain)

It is unclear if moose were ever native to Connecticut, but they are here now. They are rare, but the DEP has seen evidence over the last several years that a resident Connecticut moose population is being established. Moose have long-furred coats, typically dark brown but ranging from tannish to blackish. Males have black faces and females have brown faces. Their shoulders are humped and they have long, slim legs. They have a large flap of skin, a dewlap, under their throat. A moose's head is long with a broad muzzle. Their ears are large. Male, or bull, moose weigh 900 to 1,400 lbs. Females, or cows, weigh 700 to 1,100 lbs. Moose can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder.

Bull moose begin to grow antlers in the spring which reach their full size in late summer when the skin covering them and supplying the growing bone with blood, called velvet, dries up and falls off. Moose antlers are flattened and multi-tined, can be 5 feet across or more and weigh 40 to 60 lbs. Males use their antlers as display and weaponry against other males as they compete for cows during the breeding season which begins in September. When breeding season is over, moose lose their antlers. This is usually in November in New England.

Moose range through northern New England (although that range is expanding southwards), through Minnesota, through the Rocky mountains and through most of Canada and Alaska. In Connecticut moose are typically seen in the northern region of the state. Moose live in forested habitat and wetlands. They are active year round and are most active at dawn and dusk.

Moose are herbivores. They eat green plants, leaves and aquatic plants in the summer. In winter they browse on twigs, buds and bark. Their favorite food trees include willow, spruce, balsam fir, aspen, and birch.

Mating season begins in late September in New England areas. Bull moose can become more aggressive during this time. They will fight other males over receptive cows. Bulls will scrape out wallows 3 to 6 inches deep in which they urinate. These depressions attract female moose. Both the male and female will wallow in the "rut pit" prior to mating. Males don't feed during the breeding season. They can lose alot of weight which must be regained after breeding in preparation for the winter.

Single or twin calves will be born most often in late May or June. Newborn babies weigh 20 to 25 lbs. Calves stay with their mothers for a year.

Moose may appear quiet, but they will sometimes attack without warning if they feel threatened. Bull moose are particularly aggressive during the rutting (breeding) season and cow moose are very protective of their young. Such a big animal can be very dangerous and it is best to keep a distance.

One of the major problems arising when humans and moose coexist in the same area are car collisions involving moose. Moose are dark-colored and their eyes do not reflect headlights so they are hard to see at night if they are on the road. Hitting a huge moose is not trivial. Both parties can sustain extensive, possibly lethal, damage.

Neat Facts

Moose are the largest cervids, or members of the deer family, in the world. They are also the biggest animals found in the Northeast, and in all of North America only bisons are larger.

In the northern states of New England, moose populations began rising in the 1980s and 1990s as forested habitat increased in these areas. Young moose seeking new territories began to move southwards. It is believed moose began actually living in Connecticut around 1998 although moose sighting were reported years earlier from about 1970 on. In 1998 signs of female moose with calves were reported. In 2000 the first sighting of a living mother and calves was reported. More cow moose with calves have been reported in the years following. Mothers with babies are a good indication of a resident population. A 2004 estimation of the Connecticut moose population made by the DEP was 63. That was expected to increase by about 91% over 5 years, so the state could host many more moose today in 2011.