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Moose, snow and wind

The weather has been difficult.  We had an unusual cold snap for several days, down minus 17 at night and around 0 during the day; and now that its warming its blowing snow day and night.  The blowing snow is hard for me.  I hate that wind, and every day, sometimes twice, I have to take my new Sears snowblower and clear out the large drifts in my 500 foot long driveway.

This year I had to buy this to get out of my driveway

I’ve wondered where the animals go when its so cold.  Cold, with their winter coats, isn’t as much of a problem for them as for us.  Its that deep snow cover that is hard on the ungulates.  So when the wind blows hard, its good for them, although I might not like it.  It blows the snow clear and they can feed easier, especially in these most lean months of winter.

Yesterday I ventured out for just a short windy walk into the woods.  I like to frequent there to see what’s happening.  The other day I saw bobcat and coyote tracks, along with the usual deer.  This day I followed 2 moose tracks.

moose track

They wandered slightly up the slope.  Unlike the deer that follow under the trees in shallow snow, these moose didn’t mind the deeper drifts.  They’re well equipped with their powerful long legs.  I figured they wouldn’t head up the steep slope like the deer do.  That’s because their feed is down below, in the willows, although they do munch on conifers in the winter.

I didn’t go far when I found a fresh bed.

moose beds

beds with droppings

They’d lay down in a very deep drift, in a small clearing under a large dead conifer that had been snapped off at the trunk.  From there they had a nice view below of the forest.  Having lived all my life in a non-snow environment, in my  mind I’d thought the animals would lie more under cover with less snow.  But now it makes sense.  Snow is insulating.  I’ve seen elk and moose find deep snow, lie down and let their body heat from a deep snow cave around them.  It didn’t matter that these moose were probably being snowed on.  They were warm in their snow cave.