Moose are the largest living things.deer speciesworldwide and the tallest mammal in North America, with adults standing 6 feet tall from ground to shoulder. There are 4 subspecies of elk (alces alces)in North America. The total estimated population of moose in the United States is around 275,000 to 315,000 and in Canada, the estimate is between 500,000 and 1 million moose, depending on the source.
Large populations of elk have a range in 19 US states. However, instances of long-distance migration in search of food have led to some elk turning up outside their natural range. Find more information about the moose population in the United States below. Let's dive into the information about the estimated populations and ranges by state, including the regions within those states where they are most commonly seen.
Moose population in 50 US states
Below is information about the moose population in each US state. Learn about population estimates, where they can be found, and interesting facts about moose specific to the state.
Before we delve into the states with elk populations, let's first skip over the states without an established population of these large deer species. There may be sightings in these skipped states listed below due to long distance travel and temperature changes. Currently, however, major moose populations are found in only 19 of the 50 US states.
31 states that have no moose populations:
- Alabama– There are no moose in the state of Alabama
- Arizona– No established population, few reports of sightings in the Grand Canyon
- Arkansas– There are no moose in the state of Arkansas
- California– There are no moose in the state of California
- Delaware– There are no moose in the state of Delaware
- Florida– There are no moose in the state of Florida
- Georgia– There are no moose in the state of Georgia
- Hawai– There are no moose in the state of Hawaii
- Illinois– There are no longer settled populations in Illinois
- Indiana– Populations no longer established, with last sighting in 2010
- Iowa– No established population, but occasional sightings in recent years.
- Kansas– No established population, but occasional sightings in recent years.
- Kentucky– No more settled populations in Kentucky
- Louisiana– There is no known moose population in the state of Louisiana
- Maryland– There are no moose in the state of Maryland
- Mississippi– There are no moose in the state of Mississippi
- Measurements– No established population, but there are occasional sightings
- Nebraska– No established population, but there are occasional sightings
- New Jersey– No established population, but occasional sightings in recent years.
- New Mexico– No established population, but there are occasional sightings in the north
- North Carolina– There is no known moose population in the state of North Carolina
- Ohio– No more settled populations in Ohio
- Oklahoma– No established population, but there are occasional sightings
- Pennsylvania– No established population, with a rare sighting in the Delaware Water Gap
- Rhode Island– No established population, but there are occasional sightings in northwestern Rhode Island
- South Carolina– There are no established populations or confirmed sightings in the state of South Carolina
- Dakota del Sur– No established population, but occasional sightings in recent years.
- Tennessee– There is no known moose population in the state of Tennessee
- Texas– No established population, with a rare uprighting in 2008
- Virginia- No established population, but occasional sightings in recent years in northern Virginia
- West Virginia– There is no known moose population in the state of West Virginia
Moose population in 19 US states
The following population estimates are taken from state government websites and other official sources. They are accurate to the best of my knowledge.
|state name||Estimated Moose Population|
|Alaska||175.000 - 200.000|
|Arizona||very rare sightings|
|Connecticut||just over 100|
|Idaho||10.000 - 12.000|
|Indiana||very rare sightings|
|Maine||60.000 - 70.000|
|Massachusetts||1.000 - 1.500|
|Montana||2.334 - 4.675|
|Nevada||40 - 500|
|New Jersey||low/rare sightings|
|New Mexico||low/rare sightings|
|NY||600 - 700|
|north dakota||500 minimum|
|Pennsylvania||very rare sightings|
|Rhode Island||low/rare sightings|
|Dakota del Sur||low/rare sightings|
|Texas||very rare sightings|
|Utah||2.500 - 3.000|
|Wisconsin||20 - 40|
*Population estimates are believed to be accurate but are not guaranteed as of 06/2022
go to your state show
Alaska has a larger moose population than any other US state, with an estimated 175,000 to 200,000 moose distributed widely throughout the state. In fact, you can find about two-thirds of the American elk population in Alaska. They are abundant in forested uplands and along major rivers in interior and south-central Alaska. Elk have also recently made their way to limited areas in southeast Alaska, such as the Stikine River. View a map of moose distribution in Alaskahere.
Although Colorado used to see only a few moose roaming the state, in 1978 wildlife managers organized thefirst transplantof 12 elk in the North Park region of Colorado. Today, the population is thriving, with nearly 3,000 elk statewide. You can find them in riparian areas, in sagebrush, and above the forest line high in the mountains.
The Connecticut moose population is a recent establishment due to the expansion of the growing moose population into neighboring Massachusetts. Sightings began in 2000, and by 2007, there were about 60 moose sightings a year. Currently, the population is estimated at just over 100 animals. Most of the towns where hunters have reported moose sightings are along the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. An interactive map of moose sightings in Connecticut can be found.here.
Idaho has about 10,000 to 12,000moose population, ranging from the heavily wooded forests of the north to the Snake River Plain in the south. While some populations are declining in northern Idaho, the elk population is expanding its range into the south-central regions of the state. To hunt elk in Idaho, you must apply for a controlled hunting tag.
Maine has the second largest moose population in the US and the largest in the lower 48 states. the population isestimatedat 60,000 to 70,000 animals, a significant increase from 2,000 animals in the early 1900s. The state currently has a moose management goal to maintain a healthy population while providing hunting and viewing opportunities. Moose hunting in Maine is popular, with around 50,000 applications for the 2,000 to 3,000 moose permits the state typically issues.
In accordance withNew England Research Institute, it is estimated that there are between 1,000 and 1,500 moose in Massachusetts. The population is most abundant in the central and western regions, with occasional sightings in eastern Massachusetts. During the summer months, moose can normally be seen in the wetlands, where they feed on sodium-rich aquatic vegetation.
Elk are a species native to Michigan, however their numbers have declined significantly since European colonization. Today the population hasdisappeared from the regions of the Baja Peninsulaand remains only in the Upper Peninsula. The most recent biennial survey in 2019 estimated a moose population in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula at 509 animals. An increase from the 323 animals registered in 2015.
The majority of the moose population in Minnesota is found in the northeastern regions. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aerial survey of elk 2022 recorded a population of 4,700. While this is nearly 50% fewer animals since the population peak in 2006, it is a significant increase from the decline in 2013, and the moose population has remained stable in recent years. You can read the 2022 DNR Elk Aerial Survey and view a map of survey plotshere.
Elk occupy most of the forested landscape in western Montana, from the Cabinet Mountains in the northwest to the Centennial and Big Hole valleys in the southwest. However, they also inhabit eastern wetlands, especially along the Missouri River. TOstudy about elkconducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) reported average moose sightings in the state ranging from 2,334 to 4,675 per year since 2013. You can find species range and distribution maps in Montanahere.
The only species of moose you can find in Nevada is the Shiras Moose, also known as the Yellowstone Moose, and the smallest of the North American moose subspecies. They are newcomers to Nevada and have adapted well despite the state's less traditional habitat. In accordance withgo hunting, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) recently estimated between 40 and 50 moose living in the state. In early 2022, theLEAVESconfirmed nearly 500 moose sightings, though some of those sightings could be of the same animal.
11. New Hampshire
An estimated 3,300 moose live in the entire state of New Hampshire. They occur in all ten counties, with the most abundant living north of the White Mountains and in the Great Northern Woods. A map and data on elk density in major New Hampshire regions can be found here.here.
12. New York
Most of the elk population in New York is found in the northeast region of the Adirondack Mountains and the Taconic Highlands. However, they can occasionally be seen in eastern Washington, Rensselaer, and Columbia counties. The moose population in New York disappeared in the 1860s, but became firmly established again in the 1980s. Today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEZ), estimates about 600 to 700 elk in the Adirondack region.
13. North Dakota
The highest population densities of elk in North Dakota are in the northwestern regions, with a gradual increase in the population in the western part of the state. They prefer tree-lined prairie habitats and wooded river bottoms and are not more abundant in the Upper Missouri River area. Although the exact number of the elk population in North Dakota is not reported, the number of hunting permits issued each year provides information on the health of the population. In recent years, there have been approximately 400 elk hunting licenses per year. So, at a minimum, we can say that the population is at least 500 animals. There was a 92% increase in hunting licenses issued between 2016 and 2020. However, for the 2021 season, 70 fewer licenses were issued due to population change in the Northwest regions.
Although moose are not abundant in Oregon, there is a population that has established itself in the Blue Mountains region north of Elgin. They are believed to have first wandered to Oregon from Washington or Idaho via the Palouse Prairie. The current population of Oregon isestimated at 50adults and calves. The herd is normally found dispersed in parts of the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests.
Usually found in wooded areas, moose populations in Utah are most abundant along the Wasatch Front and in the Northeast and North regions. exist between2.500 a 3.000elk in the state. They represent one of the largest natural moose populations further south on the continent.
The moose population in Vermont has been relatively stable in recent years at approximately 3,000 animals. They are most abundant along the spine of the Green Mountains, as well as in northeastern regions, including Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia counties. In 2021, the state awarded 100 hunting licenses by lottery, which was an increase of 45 licenses from 2020.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the estimated population of elk in the state is 5,000 animals as of 2015. You can find them mostly in the Selkirk Mountains, with smaller populations in the Okanogan, North Cascades, and Blue Mountains. Although elk prefer wooded areas, they have been seen roaming in other parts of the state, such as the high desert of the Columbia Basin.
The moose population in Wisconsin is low and not officially established, but that doesn't mean sightings are non-existent. There are about 20 to 40 individuals in the state and occasional moose sightings from people wandering in from Michigan or Minnesota. State hunters are cautioned not to accidentally shoot elk during whitetail deer hunting season.
Elk live in various river bottom areas and mountain ranges in Wyoming, with the largest numbers in the Bridger-Teton National Forest region south of Jackson. According to the Wyoming Department of Fish and Game (WGFD), the moose population in Wyoming is just under 3,500 animals. The population has been declining since it peaked at 10,000 in the mid-1990s. Predictions for why the population has declined include increases in wolves and expansion of grizzly bear ranges.
A quick look at the moose
Moose are large majestic land mammals, with bulls growingdazzling hornsup to 6 meters long. They can run up to 37 mph and are also excellent swimmers, swimming up to 12.4 miles with a speed of at least 6 mph. Aside from human hunters, wolves and bears are the two largest natural predators on the elk population. However, most states regulate hunting permits to help protect the health of elk populations.
Elk are one of the largest land mammals in North America and the largest members of the deer family. The largest subspecies is the Alaskan moose, which grows up to 6 feet tall and weighs 1,600 pounds. The smallest subspecies is the Shiras elk. However, even some individuals can reach 6 feet tall and weigh 1,200 pounds.
Elk are herbivorous, feeding primarily on leaves, twigs, and bark from trees and shrubs. Some of their favorite trees to eat are native willow, balsam fir, and aspen. Elk also eat aquatic plants, sedges, weeds, and grasses. They can forage for aquatic plants in and out of the water.
Moose prefer habitats that are wooded areas and typically live inboreal, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. You can also find them near swamps, rivers, lakes, swamps, and open fields on mountains and plains, if there is a forest nearby.
Moose mating season is in the fall, from late September to mid-October. Also known as the rutting season, bulls (adult males) will move to lower elevations to find cows (females). Bulls often fight and fight in competition for a mate.
Moose do not hibernate in winter. They are well adapted to survive in winter climates. Moose have one of the most insulating coats and thickest skins of all the land mammals they live on.cabineach spring. They can also handle snow depths of up to 36 inches and use their hooves to search for food in the snow.
Elk are typically found in the northern regions of the US, from Maine to Washington and even Alaska. However, there are populations in more southern states such as Utah and Nevada. While some populations remain year-round within a range, others can migrate up to 100 miles between seasonal ranges, and more moose sightings are reported in states without an established population.
There are 4 subspecies of elk in North America, they are as follows:
- eastern elk (moose moose moose): eastern Canada, northeastern US
- alce occidental (anderson moose): British Columbia to western Ontario, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota
- alaskan moose (elk moose gigas): Alaska and western Yukon.
- Shiras Elk (soars soars knows): Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.
if you find a moose
Although moose often flee when threatened, under certain circumstances they can become aggressive. People can get hurt when a moose charges, stomps, or kicks to protect itself or its young. Bulls are also often more aggressive during rutting or mating season.
If you come across a moose in the wild, make sure you stay away from it and watch its behavior carefully. A moose walking slowly toward you may be ready to pounce, especially if the hairs on its hump are standing up, it's licking its lips, growling, stomping, or its ears are back.
Here are some quick tips for moose encounters:
- Stay calm: Don't yell, throw things, or offer them food, as they may still attack after taking the food out of your hand.
- Move away from the moose, giving it at least 50 feet of personal space and a clear area for the moose to escape.
- If they start to attack, run and get behind a stable structure, such as a tree, large rock, car, or fence.
- If you are knocked down, curl up into a ball with your hands protecting your head and neck.
- After an attack, play dead and stay still until the moose disappears or can attack again.
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