Plants and Animals

Alces alces Moose

Key Characteristics

The moose is a large horse-sized mammal standing 6 feet (1.8 m) tall at the shoulder with grayish to reddish brown fur. The muzzle is broad with an elongated snout, the shoulders are humped, and a flap of skin hangs beneath the neck.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S4 - Apparently secure


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Baraga 1 2017
Chippewa 4 1981
Keweenaw 1 1980
Mackinac 3 1981
Marquette 2 2018
Menominee 1 1980

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Moose inhabit second growth northern upland forests as well as lowlands, preferring to forage on the new growth of woody species such as aspen and balsam fir in the spring and switching to aquatic plants in the summer.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Maintaining forest stands of mixed age structure for winter and spring browse would benefit the species, but clearcutting large blocks of forest and large-scale timber operations in sensitive wetland areas are not recommended. Managing for moose where frequent encounters with humans are likely, especially near roads and city environments, should be avoided.

Active Period

Active from first week of January to fourth week of December

Breeding from first week of September to fourth week of October

Survey Methods

Aerial surveys via plane or helicopter are probably most effective, though track surveys are also possible.

Aerial surveys

Survey Period: From first week of November to fourth week of March

Track surveys

Survey Period: From first week of November to fourth week of March


Survey References

  • Kurta, A. 1995. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.
  • Wilson, D.E., F.R. Cole, J.D. 1996. Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity - Standard Methods for Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.

Technical References

  • Baker, R.H. 1983. Michigan Mammals. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
  • Kurta, A. 1995. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.