It’s fall, which means the moose has mating on his mind. The annual autumn rut happens in late September or early October. Moose can become more curious about people at this time of year (they’ll usually flee when they see us during the other seasons). Hey, great photo ops, right? Except…maybe not. Keep reading.
Strange but true: in moose-heavy Alaska, more people are injured by moose than they are by bears. Why? Poorly-planned selfies. Okay, truth? Male moose can become aggressive to humans during the fall rut; they might stomp, kick, and, worst of all, charge. (Females, on the other hand, are more likely to get aggro during spring and summer, protecting their calves.) Usually a charging male is bluffing, but you really don’t want to find out, not when the heftiest of moose can weigh 1,200 lbs, with antlers as wide as two metres.
Speaking of antlers, they play a large role in courtship rituals. Males eye each others’ racks, and size does matter. The bull with the largest headgear usually gets to be the boss, and have his choice of females. During the fall rut, males will also scrape their antlers over tree branches. It’s called “thrashing” and it lets females know that they’re around and looking for love; the behaviour also tells other bulls in their territory to back off.
When a bull is courting a lady moose—the courtship can last for up to a week—he’ll dig a pit in the ground, pee in it, and then roll around in this perfume. Nothing screams romance like the fresh smell of urine.