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Naturally, moose are very smart and gentle animals, notwithstanding their huge body sizes. They are barely aggressive, except for when defending themselves. Quite unfortunate for them, some natural predators are always after their flesh. We humans pose the greatest threat to their life, primarily through poaching and trophy hunting; but what are moose natural predators? The most common moose predators are the wolves.
Other indirect ways through which we endanger the moose include global warming, habitat destruction, and also through collisions with vehicles. Although humans are regarded as a product of nature, we wouldn’t consider ourselves as natural predators
Moose Natural predators
Moose is the world’s largest member of the deer family. The humongous mammals are weighty, with full-grown bulls weighing up to 1000 pounds. The male moose have massive antlers that can spread up to 6 feet wide. Though seasonal, the antlers are formidable tools of self-defense when the animal is threatened.
The gigantic nature of moose would lead you to think that they are usually safe with no threats around them. To your dismay, moose, like all other herbivores, are at risk of natural predators that crave for their flesh. Hence, moose are always on the lookout for such predators. This article will highlight the natural moose predators that won’t stop until they kill them.
Below are some of the natural predators that give moose sleepless nights.
Moose are huge animals with very few natural predators. One of them is the grizzly bear. Given the size of these bears, they are among the few animals that would rival moose in strength. Although the grizzly bears prey on the moose, there are numerous incidences where adult moose would kill the predator.
It would be difficult for a grizzly bear to kill a full-grown, mature bull. Instead, this predator targets smaller moose that are not as fast and capable of defending themselves. It is worth noting that moose are relatively speedy compared to grizzly bears. It is, therefore, not easy for a grizzly bear to catch a running moose. Remember, moose can run up to 35mphh (miles per hour).
Due to the moose speed, these bears would likely scavenge for a weakened moose if not a dead one. Fortunately, moose do not live in herds, which would make it easier for grizzly bears to locate an injured moose.
American Black Bear
As the name suggests, the American black bear is a North American native species. Of all the various bear types, it is the smallest in North America. Also, and not as dangerous as the other bears. They are the most common in the region.
Although the American black bear is omnivorous, they are famous for attacking and eating moose. Since this predator also lives in intensely forested areas just like moose, then both enemies meet regularly. Generally, the American black bears and moose coexist with each other. How again the bears eat moose and other animals when the situations allow is still a puzzle.
There are different killer whale species, mostly identified by their dialects and diets. Transient killer whales also referred to as Bigg’s killer whales are the type of killer whales that predate on moose. Although killer whales are among natural moose predators, it is not a regular occurrence. However, there are several recorded incidents where killer whales attack and kill moose in the water.
Since moose are excellent swimmers, they can dive up to 20 feet when grazing on aquatic plants. Killer whales are occasionally spotted stalking, pouncing and killing moose as they swim. These cases are rampant in America’s northwest coast. It is observed that killer whales go for smaller moose to whom they can swallow whole. Despite their preference, these whales have strong teeth and jaws to make big bites out of moose.
When moose are swimming, they almost have no defense mechanism. In fact, they can only swim at a maximum speed of 13mph (miles per hour). This makes them more natural prey in the waters for the fast and powerful killer whales.
Killer whales are the only known moose marine predators. In their absence, moose would enjoy staying cool under the waters during summers while safe.
Wolves are the most common predators for the moose. There is a pretty long history of killing and hunting of moose in the United States. The US government has occasionally used wolves to put control of the moose population.
Whereas moose are way bigger than wolves, the wolves, on the other hand, are more intelligent. Wolves take advantage of their collaborative nature and hunt in packs. This narrows the chances of a moose to survive an attack by the wolves.
Besides the wolves hunting in packs, they are also intelligent and patient predators. They spot and point out a weak target from a herd of moose. If they don’t get success with this trick, they will target the same moose for a few days. The particular target will get weakened, and they will manage to kill eventually.
Unfortunately, moose has limited defenses when tackling a wolf pack, but it easily outruns one wolf. However, many are the cases when a moose target gets caught. After all, wolves rely too much on moose for survival. They also go for bigger animals and ungulates in general.
Scientists in North America began a study on the wolf-moose relationship over 5 decades ago. On an island in Lake Superior lies the isolated Isle Royale National Park, which formed the study field. The park exclusively harbors moose and wolf packs.
Both animals depend on each other for survival. Moose are the primary food source for the wolves, while wolves help control the moose population. At times, wolves eat much of moose resulting in food shortage, which keeps their own population in check.
Cougars are also called pumas or mountain lions. These notorious carnivores are not strongly associated with preying on moose. Nevertheless, it is not an impossibility. Though smaller than moose, the cats can yield adequate strength to bring down a moose.
These are the largest felines in the world and are also known as Amur tigers. They are rare tigers and thus very endangered. Thanks to their current low population, their impact on moose is insignificant compared to some decades back.
Moose are not only found in North America but also in some parts of Eurasia where Siberian tigers thrive. In this region, the moose are commonly referred to as elks. In light of the above, the Siberian cats frequently prey on moose, although the attacks are rarely recorded.
Ticks Pose More Danger to Moose than Predators
This might sound like a joke, but it is more severe than you could imagine. Ticks are technically not predators but parasites. In the recent past, these little blood-sucking organisms have exhibited a much worse effect than the usual traditional predators. Climate change has necessitated the rapid rise of this new and less thought of foe.
Currently, winters in New England are getting warmer, with falls lingering longer and springs blooming earlier. The witnessed climate change is causing an increasing winter ticks trend that is endangering the moose population. This is more evident in areas such as New Hampshire and western Maine.
Research at the University of New Hampshire concluded that the increase of ticks infestation during fall and winter as the leading cause of an unprecedented 70% calves’ death rate over the last few years. It’s causing slow but miserable deaths to the moose. Unfortunately, an infested moose aid in spreading the menace to the others.
Moose Predator Defense Mechanisms
- Moose have a high running speed of up to 35 miles per hour. Luckily, they don’t get exhausted from the running and jumping since there is only little energy used. On the other hand, predators chasing after moose use a lot of energy, working in favor of moose.
- Ability to swim and survive in water. Moose goes into low-level water bodies where wolves cannot swim, thus protecting themselves.
- Strong hooves, especially for the bulls, are their defense tools. Also, the strong antlers are a great deal when fighting off predators.
- Female moose do not have antlers but have the ability to protect their calves with their strong kicks.
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