According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, as of 2015, there were an estimated 5,000 moose in Washington State. They are limited to the Selkirk Mountains and the north Cascades, Okanogan, and Blue Mountains. These massive mammals are majestic and quite a sight to see. In Washington State, hunting is extremely limited during October and November. To legally hunt a moose, you need a once-in-a-lifetime “any moose” hunting permit. There are less than 200 each year in the state. With this limitation, you can imagine just how impressive it is to catch a state record. Follow along to discover the largest moose ever caught in Washington State.
What is the Largest Moose Ever Caught in Washington?
According to the Boone and Crockett Club, the largest moose ever caught in Washington State scored 183 6/8. Paul T. Gann caught this giant in 2017. This large state record mirrors Marc W. Babiar who caught a 183 6/8 Shiras’ moose in 2005. These records are impressive but don’t compare to the B&C World’s Record. John M. Oakley of Cheyenne, Wyoming shot and killed a 205-4/8 point Shiras’ moose in 1952 near Green River Lake, Wyoming. He’s held this record for over 70 years.
Moose are massive animals and the only member of the genus Alces. With just one look, it’s easy to tell that moose are the largest and heaviest extant species of deer. Currently, deer are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, but populations are declining in certain parts of the world. Continue reading to learn more about moose.
Description and Size
Moose have a very distinct look, although they slightly range in size depending on the subspecies and range. Typically though, male moose, also known as bulls, have large antlers. Interestingly, the spread and growth rate of a moose’s antlers depends on its age, diet, and health. The largest recorded spread of moose antlers is 83 inches across.
Moose also have distinct fur. Their fur is thick enough to help them survive cold and harsh winters but also light enough that the guard hairs help them stay afloat when swimming. Moose have long legs, thick bodies, and a fold of skin under the chin. Their tails are short, ranging from about 6 to 8 cm long.
So, how big can a moose get? The most impressive thing about moose is their massive size. They are the largest extant deer species with a shoulder height between 4 feet 7 inches and 6 feet 11 inches. Males are larger than female moose. Bulls (male moose) weigh anywhere from 838 to 1,543 pounds, while cows (female moose) weigh about 441 to 1,080 pounds. Not only are moose tall and heavy, but they are also very long animals. Their length ranges from 7 feet 10 inches to 10 feet. Larger specimens have been recorded but weren’t authenticated.
Distribution and Habitat
The distribution and range of a moose are large. They are native to parts of North America, Asia, and Europe. In North America, you can find moose in almost all of Canada and Alaska. They also live in smaller amounts in New York State, northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, New England, Montana, Oregon, and parts of Michigan. Although not as common, moose in the mountains of Utah and Colorado have been recorded.
In Europe, moose live in northern Ukraine, Norway, Sweden, Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, southern Czech Republic, and Poland. They are also widespread throughout Russia. The Mid-Siberian moose lives throughout eastern Siberia, Mongolia, and Manchuria.
Moose are very hardy animals, however, they cannot tolerate heat. Instead, they live in areas with lots of edible plants and cover, which helps them stay safe from predators, especially in the winter. Moose are especially common in forests.
Moose are massive animals with wide diets. They need to eat about 23,000 kilocalories a day, depending on their size. Most of the energy they need comes from terrestrial vegetation like shoots from willow and birch trees. These browsing herbivores lack upper front teeth but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They may stretch high and walk upright on their hind legs to reach branches as high as 14 feet off the ground.
Moose aren’t limited to twigs, branches, and tree shoots. They also eat aquatic plants. Moose are excellent swimmers and may impressively dive as deep as 18 feet to reach plants.
Moose have very few natural predators. These large animals are only hunted by Siberian tigers, brown bears, black bears, mountain lions, orcas, and packs of gray wolves. However, while moose have natural predators, adults are rarely attacked. Instead, young moose calves are most vulnerable. Orcas, interestingly, have been recorded preying on moose swimming between islands out of North America’s Northwest Coast.
Other Mammals in Washington State
Moose are just one mammal species within Washington State. There are hundreds of others, just as impressive. Follow along to learn about other mammals within Washington State and fun facts about each.
The first animal on our list is the white-tailed deer, which is very common in Washington State. You can find these deer throughout eastern Washington. Within this state are about 90,000 to 100,000. Although known for their white undertails, white-tailed deer have reddish-brown coats during summer and thicker greyish-brown coats in winter.
Steller Sea Lion
Have you ever heard of the Steller sea lion? You can find this near-threatened species from north-central California to Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia to Alaska. According to the NatureServe conservation status system, they are Vulnerable. Steller sea lions are opportunistic marine predators. They are excellent hunters who consume large fish, squids, and octopuses. Steller sea lions are best known for their thick lion-like manes.
Next on our list of mammals found throughout Washington State is the mountain cottontail. These cottontail rabbits weigh around 2 pounds and are native to the intermountain area of North America. You can find these rabbits in Canada and the United States. Mountain cottontails mainly eat sagebrush and grasses. They have long hind legs with long hair.
Another mammal in Washington State is the Keen’s myotis. This small bat species is native to British Columbia in Canada and in Washington and Alaska in the United States. It weighs less than half an ounce and has an average body length of 8 to 9 cm. This bat species is named after the Rev. John Henry Keen.
Yellow-pine chipmunks are also found throughout Washington State. These small chipmunks, on average, weigh around 1.8 ounces. They are native to western North America, including parts of the United States and Canada. Yellow-pine chipmunks live in brush-covered areas, taking protection from predators. They are easy to identify from their distinct light yellow or pale creme stripes.
Last but not least is Washington State’s official marine mammal, the orca, also known as the killer whale. Orcas are fascinating and large-toothed whales. Although known as whales, they are actually the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family. In Washington State, you can find orca whales by the San Juan Islands and Orcas Island.
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