The cycle of life renews itself in the spring when the warmth of the longer days brings new vegetation. Expectant moose give birth after about an eight month gestation to one or two calves. In late May and June, cow moose seem to move to lower-lying areas near water sources to calve. Twins are not uncommon, especially if cows are healthy and well fed but less frequent if moose population density is higher. For young moose – as with most wild animals – the first months of life are the most dangerous. Coyotes and bears are natural predators and a threat to calves. The cow will vigorously defend her offspring using hard, sharp hooves and a powerful kick as weapons. Even though calves can run within a few days of birth and swim well within a couple weeks, avoiding detection often is a better defense. Calves are a much lighter tan than their dark-haired parents and more difficult to see in brush and tall grasses. New calves can lie absolutely still where their mother has left them soon after they’ve been born. She will spend an inordinate amount of time licking the newborn so any downwind predators can’t pick up the scent. This is why you can easily bisect the path between a mom and her baby.
Moose calves weigh 25 to 35 pounds at birth and grow quickly to 300 to 400 pounds by fall. They are weaned at about six months, but remain with their mother for one year. Spring is often a rude awakening for the yearling calves. Following a year of nurturing, guidance and protection, cows will use body language and aggressive behavior to inform the yearling it is no longer welcome company. A perplexed yearling is left to fend for itself for the first time in its life. Fortunately, having survived its most precarious year, a much longer existence is a high probability.
Maine is home to the highest moose population in the lower 48 states (estimated at 76,000) and moose are an icon of the Maine Woods. When you visit the North woods, the propensity to see moose is high. Our Moosehead Lake lodging is the perfect starting point for your moose watching adventure. Talk to your concierge upon check in for the inside scoop on where to start – enjoy your sightings!