Moose (Alces alces)

The moose is the largest member of the deer family, and the Alaska Yukon moose (Alces alces gigas), found throughout the Territory, is the largest member of the moose clan. Adult males can reach a height of over two metres and weigh almost 700 kilograms. Northwestern moose (Alces alces andersoni), a slightly smaller subspecies is found only in the southeastern part of the Yukon. The two subspecies frequently interbreed. There is an estimated 70,000 moose in the Yukon.


Moose occur throughout the Territory, wherever there is suitable habitat. The few moose on Yukon's north slope stick to narrow strips of vegetation along the rivers that run down to the arctic coast. In the southern Yukon, two thirds of all moose are found at treeline in the subalpine shrub zone. Other moose concentrate in recent burn areas, and along waterways with interconnecting marshes, ponds, and streams.


Moose browse on twigs, leaves, shrubs, and other plants, both on land and in the water. In a single day, an adult can consume about 20 kilograms of food. Their large overhanging snouts have self-sealing nostrils that allow the animals to browse under water. It is quite a sight to see an apparently-headless moose grazing in a shallow lake. Although their eyesight is relatively poor they rely on their acute senses of smell and excellent hearing to warn them of predators.


Moose calves are born in late spring, from mid-May to mid-June, and are vulnerable to predators in their first few weeks. Of the moose calves born in the southwest Yukon’s subalpine zone, about half fall prey to grizzly bears before they are eight weeks old. Wolves also prey on moose, particularly calves, throughout the year. If cornered, a moose’s powerful front legs can be deadly weapons.