Hello everyone. This is Tank reporting on this week’s Notes from the Trail. There are all sorts of interesting animals that are out and about right now. I’m so excited to be out in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, traveling with Amy and Dave. There is a really big animal that we saw recently. Dave told me that it is called a moose. I will tell you all about our moose encounters lately.
One day last week, we were paddling along. Well, I wasn’t paddling. . . Dave and Amy were paddling while I was sitting in the canoe. We were on a lake called Little Saganaga. It is a place where a forest fire burned though a few years ago. There weren’t many big trees. We could see lots of gray and black, charred tree trunks down on the ground. Green things have been emerging here. I could see buds on the willows and some other green things coming up from the ground.
I was looking around and smelling the air. Then all of a sudden I saw this large, brown creature– the moose! It had a big, long nose. It was tall. It was much taller than a dog. It had hooves instead of paws. I tried to figure out what the moose was doing. Then I saw that it was chewing something. I sniffed the air, but I couldn’t smell any dog food. Amy told me that moose get their food in a different way than dogs. They actually eat something that I really wouldn’t think is food. I mean, there wasn’t any sort of meat involved! They don’t have people to put their food in a dish for them either. That’s how I eat my food– in a dog dish. My dog kibble is made of mostly meat. Moose eat plants. Can you believe that? This moose was eating buds off of the willow and other plants near the water’s edge.
Amy told me a word that explains what moose eat. She said that moose are herbivores. Herbivores eat plants. Carnivores eat meat. A wolf is a good example of a carnivore. I’m kind of a carnivore, because I eat a lot of meat. My dog kibble has some rice in the mix too, so that makes me an omnivore– meaning that I eat meat and some plant-based food. People are omnivores too.
What other animals are herbivores? Can you think of a few carnivores too? How about omnivores?
The moose wandered up the hill and we paddled away. Once we were on the next portage trail, I could smell evidence of moose everywhere. Dave showed me moose tracks, where a moose had stepped with its great big hooves. Their tracks are a lot different than a dog track. In my tracks, you can see marks from my pads and claws. A moose just leaves two big marks in the mud, from the two segments of its hoof. Hooves are hard. Did you know that they are made out of the same stuff as your finger nails? You can tell how big it is because each track is two to three times the size of my tracks. Also, each track is spaced a long ways apart, because their legs are a lot longer than mine. I even found these round pellets that were about the size of ping pong balls. Amy explained that was moose scat.
Have you ever seen an animal track? How did you identify the animal?
Ever since that first moose encounter, I have been on the lookout for moose. I get excited if I smell moose. We paddled on the Temperance River and on a series of lakes yesterday. Dave and Amy saw two moose a long ways away. I couldn’t smell them, so I didn’t care too much. They told me they saw a third moose a little while later.
When we were heading back to our campsite, the wind was blowing from the shore towards us. Then I could really smell moose! I got so excited. I shifted in my spot and whined. I know that I am supposed to sit when I am in the canoe, but I was so excited! I stood up to try to get a better smell of the moose. I smelled the moose a few minutes before Amy and Dave saw the moose. It was a mom and a yearling. A yearling is a young moose that is about one year old. It was smaller than the mom. Whenever I stood up, Amy told me to sit down. I really wanted Dave and Amy to pull over so I could go investigate the moose. Dave just pulled out his camera and aimed it at the moose. He took a couple pictures for you to see. I sat back down because I am a good dog and I get treats if I sit.
We left the moose grazing and headed back to camp. While I think the moose are interesting, I don’t think I would like to be one. Back at camp, Amy poured a couple scoops of dog food into my dish and I gobbled it down. I would much rather eat like this than spend all my time looking for plants and grazing.
Do you agree with Tank? Would you like to be a moose? Why or why not?
They are still interesting animals and I will be on the lookout for them all summer. I will be sure to tell you about any moose that we see in the future.
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