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(Alces alces), family Cervidae
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
Explanation: Why is this moose running? We are chasing it in a small helicopter. We are flying through the Mackenzie Mountain Range in a remote part of central British Columbia, western Canada, in search of radio-collared woodland caribou. I have been invited to participate in a research study of a wolf-caribou-moose community, by my Canadian wildlife biologist colleagues working with Wildlife Infometrics Inc.
They have discovered that, as this forest area has become increasingly harvested for timber, the habitat quality for woodland caribou has shifted in favor of moose ... which in turn has invited greater numbers of wolves ... and greater predation by wolves on the caribou that are of conservation concern. It is like several see-saws hooked together; change the position of one element, such as the forest environment, and the populations of at least several species are linked and tip up or down.
Moose are not particularly threatened, and in fact can be hunted for sport and for their excellent meat (but they can be dangerous to approach, so beware). Moose are found throughout northern North America including Alaska and Canada, as well as northern Europe and Asia. Predators include not just wolves and people but also grizzly bears and black bears that prey mostly on young or infirm individuals.
although they may look goofy, moose
have been clocked at running up to 55 km/hr (35 mi/hr). So if you
are going to outrun a charging moose, it is best to remain airborne in your
Acknowledgments: Thanks to my wildlife biologist colleagues R. Scott McNay and Line Giguere for including me on this research outing to a magnificent Canadian landscape.
Next week's picture: Window to Past Climates: Dalai Nur Lake of Nei Mongol
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