Where to find - Moose Habitat & Species

World Zones of Moose

Moose can be found in forested areas with lakes or ponds (or in those ...), streams and swamps, i.e., moist conditions.

Coniferous and young mixed forests are their home. Snow cover in the winter up to 60-70cm can be seen as standard, Moose habitat is determined by the temperatures. Moose prefer zones where the summer average is around 15 °C and does not exceed 27 °C for long. The reason for this temperature dependancy: They cannot sweat and they produce additional heat by fermentation in their gut. 

Besides the cooling effect of water, from which moose are seldomly far away, water protects against biting insects and offers good food supply.

Moose are native in nearly all Northern forest zones:
Northern Europe, Northern America, the Baltic region and Siberia as well as in the colder regions of Asia.

The habitat is limited to the South by approximately the 50th parallel and to the North by the 67th parallel.

Scientifically this is taiga, forest tundra, temperate forest and rain forest, i.e., boreal and subarctic zones.

Two main areas are perfect related to vegetation and the content of nutrients: Flooding areas, where high levels of nutrients/minerals come into the soils;
when ponds are flooded, they grow nutrient-rich aquatic vegetation. The other area is forest burnt down by forest fires. Here high levels of nutrients are available, and young forest can emerge giving the perfect food supply for moose.

The minerals required are found in silt and loess-soils found in the northern temperate zones, which forms the main habitat of the moose. These soils, combined with usually young eco-systems, give rapid plant growth of nutrient-rich and soft plants - the perfect food for moose.

Moose Home Territory

Moose stay resident, if they find enough nutrition. Huge parts of the  North American moose have a home-range of between 5-40 km². Looking at their colleagues high up north with less food supply, the home-range can be up to 25-times that big! Alaskan moose have around 260 km² in average browsing areas.

In their home zone moose seem to have small areas with high utilization, likely those with a rich food supply. Other areas are only used for transit. Also the mating grounds can be those with high attendance.

Usually moose have their home-range not far away from the place they were born (provided that the food supply is adequate), normally not more than half a day-trip away. Cows have an average distance of their habitat from their place of birth of 8-16km, bulls exceed this normally.

Moose are found in higher elevations in summer time (higher than 1500 m) than in winter (lower than 1000m) - they may travel up to 100 km to their wintering grounds.

Moose Sub-Species and Their Habitat

All moose on Earth belong to one species (Alces alces linneaus). (For the scientific classification of the moose in general see " Name & Major scientific classification")

Looking further at differentiation into sub-species, a point of controversy comes up: below you find the standard classification into a variety of sub-species, as science, respectively the discoverers, have defined it.

But newer sources question this classification, the argument being that observed differences in moose can be explained by differences in their environment. On this reasoning are only two subspecies: for this point of view see "Environmental Classification".

The following sub-species are defined depending on the geographical habitat and discoverers:

North America

Limited to the Rocky Mountains as far south as Colorado, and to eastern states bordering Canada. Can be found nearly all over Alaska.
The population is currently still extending due to protection. With increasing numbers also the range is extending.

In general the North American moose have a more bright saddle than the European ones, with darker legs and face. The antlers have approximately double the weight of the European species with four prongs.

Approximately 750.000 moose in 9 provinces and 3 territories:

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan
Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories

USA (15 states, approximately 250.000 moose)
Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Little New York, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming. Due to Southerly expansion Connecticut as well.

Click here for a larger image of the map above
Click here for a large image of the map with states/provinces visible

Alces alces gigas

  Alaska/Yukon/Tundra Moose

Alaska-/ Yukon-Elch

Discoverer: Miller, 1899

Area: Alaska (about 150.000), western Yukon and northwestern British Columbia

The Alaska or Yukon Moose is the biggest sub-species. Bulls can get 2,50 m high at the shoulders (average 2m) and up to 3,10 m long at a weight of 1000 kg. A full-grown bull with its tremendous antlers (about 23kg, 2 m wide) is the largest wild animal in North America.
The moose is black-brown with brigther back and pale brown legs.
Face and nose of the cow are redish-brown, while the bull has a black nose. 

The bell (throat beard) is longer than that of the European moose - it can get up to 96 cm !

It is estimated, that the moose came over the Behring bridge to Alaska 350.000 years ago.

Population: Estimated 170.000-220.000

Alces alces andersoni

  Northwestern-/Manitoba Moose

Westkanadischer/Manitoba Elch

Discoverer: Peterson, 1950

Area: central British Columbia to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan to western Ontario and Northwest Territories/Nunavut, Eastern Yukon Territories

Largest propagation, brownish-black and medium sized. 

Population: Estimated 350.000-410.000

Estimated population for British Columbia: 175.000

Alces alces americana

 Eastern/East-Canadian Moose

Ostkanadischer Elch

Discoverer: Clinton, 1822

Area: Maine (30.000, highest US density), Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland (110.000), central Ontario, Hudson bay to the Great Lakes. Expansion down to Connecticut.

Mahogany-brown in color, smallest North American sub-species.

After moose hunting was forbidden between 1935 and 1980 in Maine, the number of moose increased from 7.000 in 1950 to 20.000 in 1990 - a good example of how human interaction influences moose population. Also a good example for the Southerly expansion is the increase of population in Connecticut. With no attested report before 1956 (some sporadic reports starting in the early 1900s), the population increased to about 100 moose today with increasing number of sightings per year.

Population: Estimated 250.000-330.000

Alces alces shirasi

 Yellowstone-/Wyoming-/ Shiras Moose

Felsengebirge/Shiras Elch

Discoverer: Nelson, 1914

Area: north Wyoming (e.g. 200 examples in Yellowstone National Park), north and central Idaho, western Montana, southwestern Alberta , southeastern British Columbia and western areas in Utah with high elevations, Colorado, northwestern Washington and throughout much of the Rocky Mountains

A medium-sized sub-species with relatively wide nose-openings. The back is colored more pale/grayish compared to the other American sub-species. It will stand up to 175 cm at the shoulders and weigh up to 450kg. The antlers can vary between 100 and 125cm wide.

The moose was named after George Shiras III, who was a politician, wildlife photographer and conservationist from Pennsylvania, whose friend was the disoverer E.W.Nelson. Nelson, working for the US Bureau of biological surveys, named the moose sub-species after his friend Shiras.
Shiras is told taking the first nightshot of moose with flash - from a canoe - which was shown in "National Geographic" in 1906 - Shiras was obviously in respect to moose as enthusiastic than myself :-)

Population: Estimated 25.000



Siberia, Sweden, Norway, Baltic Region. 

In the European part of Russia the moose was nearly extinct in the 1920s. By protection of the moose against hunting the population has about tripled since then.

In Asia the more northern, colder areas are the main habitat for moose.

About 1.5-2 million moose in 12 countries:
China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Norway, Manchuria, Poland, Russia, Siberia, Slovakia and Sweden

Alces alces alces

 European Moose

Europäischer Elch

Discoverer: Carl v. Linnè, 1758

Area: Scandinavia, Poland to Jenissei river in the east

The size of this moose is somewhere in the middle, tending to relative big. The length of a bull moose is around 2,70m, the weight can be more than 500 kg. The cow weighs between 275 and 375 kg. The lenght of the bulls skull is between 55 and 58 cm.

European moose are colored dark brown with white legs. Their antler size is broadly smaller than that of the North American moose and they have three prongs. Their saddle is dark. 

Oldest discoveries of moose bones are dated to be around 100.000 to 150.000 years old in Europe.

Population: Estimated total: 1,3 Million
(from which around 700.000 are in Scandinavia)

Alces alces pfizenmayeri

 Yakut/Mid-Siberian/Lena Moose

Ostsibirischer / Jakutischer Elch

Discoverer: Zukowsky, 1910

Area: From Jenissei river/Russia in the west throughout Siberia and to Stanovoy mountains south

This sub-species is bigger than the European moose with a length of up to 300 cm. It can gain a weight of 570-650 kg with shoulder height between 225-240 cm. The bulls head-lenght is between 59 and 62 cm.

This moose's color is comparable to the European Moose, but the legs are darker and sometimes colored similar to the body.

In winter you can see more grayish colors. It has usually a bigger beard than Alces alces alces.

Population: Estimated 10.000

Alces alces buturlini

 Kolymsky Moose

Kamtschatka-/Tschukotka Elch

Discoverer: Chernyavsky/Zheleznov, 1982

Area: eastern Siberia on the Kamtschaka peninsula

Biggest specimens are found in the northern parts. Size can be as big as the Alaskan moose.

Population: No information

Alces alces cameloides

 Ussurian/Manchurian Moose

Zwerg-/ Ussuri-/Manschurischer Elch

Discoverer: Milne-Edwards, 1867

Area: northern Mongolia, Amur/Ussuri area, northern Manchuria, up to Stanovoy mountains

This is the smallest sub-species - and a rather short-legged as well with a weak build, but a comparably big head, although a little bit smaller still than that of Alces alces alces. (perhaps perfect comic-moose ?)

With a standard weight of around 320 kg the bull can also reach 400 kg at a length of 250-275 cm.

Alces alces cameloides has dark fur with bright legs. Mating season starts earlier than for other sub-species.

Morphological similarities with the North American moose suggests a high level of relation. This sub-species is endangered and today protected by law.

Population: Estimated 11.000

Alces alces caucasicus 
- died out !!

 Caucasian Moose

Kaukasischer Elch

Discoverer: N. Vereshchagin, 1955

Area: northern forests of Caucasia

This small sub-species (head-length 53-54 cm) unfortunately became extinct in the beginning 19th century! 

Population: Extinct !


Thanks to the staff of mooseworld.com for our mutual exchange between friends of moose and their "native language support" and revision of this section.