Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America. They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions. Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer. The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.
Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose. Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990. The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game. The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area. The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest. (Source Wikipedia)
The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants. They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation. The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs. have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms. They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes. They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal. The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.
I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans. However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined. During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”
I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk. With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer. Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger put into half pound packs rather than pound. If you need a pound use two packs. We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger. We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger. When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge. He said you will change your mind.
As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza.
Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
- 1 – large onion – chopped
- 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
- 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
- 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
- 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 – small can tomato paste
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
- 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
- 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
- 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
- 3 – red chili peppers – diced
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
- 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
- 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup Red Wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tusker Beer
In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.
Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.
While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).
Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.
At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.
Cover and simmer for at least one hour.
While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish.
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