Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 10 > Page 21 - MOOSE, A Cape Breton Extinction

Page 21 - MOOSE, A Cape Breton Extinction

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1975/3/31 (1398 reads)
 

dous battles between the males at this time are apparently over-emphasized: the bat? tling is more sparring and bluffing, though serious fights do sometimes occur and locked antlers do occasionally result in death. A successful moose habitat is one providing a wide variety of successional vegeta? tion. Winter food is principally the bitten off ends of branches of both coniferous and deciduous woody plants. They commonly straddle young trees, driving them down to get at the terminal ends. With warmer weather they eat the green species as the show and they chew bark when sap is rising. When plants leaf out they change their method of eating • grasping branches a foot or so from the end and, with a swing of the head, pulling the plant through the mouth stripping the leaves (and inadvertant? ly eating a snail containing a lethal roundworm to be discussed below). Wherever a- vailable they eat large quantities of aquatic plants before they reach the surface. "When feeding on submerged aquatic vegetation they occasionally dive for plants in water over 18 feet deep....Occasionally animals were seen to make a 180 degree turn while submerged, and at other times they would seem to roll to one side while at? tempting to stay under....The average length of submergence was slightly under 30 seconds. The greatest time actually checked was 50 seconds, though some appeared to remain under slightly longer." (Peterson) Not only quantity but a wide variety of vegetation is required to support a healthy moose population and nutrition may play an important role in successful ovulation, as it certainly does in the deer. The best habitat provides continual forest succession or regeneration. In the early stages of a forest, when sun-loving herbs and small twiggy trees are available, moose populations tend to peak • while populations decrease in mature climax forest. Thus fire is an important agent, and ironically it is clear-cutting, not selective cutting, that provides the best browse. The moose of Cape Breton have been reported as extinct at various times, only to show up in considerable numbers once again, Denys reported in 1672: "This island has also been esteemed for the hunting of moose. They were found formerly in great num? bers but at present there are none. The Indians have destroyed everything, and have abandoned the island, finding there is no longer the wherewithal for living." Clear? ly, that report was a little premature, because we have an interesting story of moose hunting as carried out illegally by Americans in the Cape North region in the winter of 1787-88. The colony of Cape Breton had only one little ship to watch the entire coast against smugglers, so coal and gypsum (lA'ich was used then as fertili? zer) were being taken, and hunters were killing moose for the skins, tallow and the nose (moose mosel), the latter considered quite a delicacy. It was probably the odor Koolex Kleaners CANADA'S FINEST DRY CLEANERS AND SHIRT LAUNDERERS George Street Charlotte Street SYDNEY Building Supplies "The Home Care Centre" Welton 3treet Dial: 564-5518 Cape Breton's Magazine/21
Cape Breton's Magazine
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