Yellowstone moose are the largest member of the deer family found in Yellowstone. Their size, distinctive appearance, and relative scarcity make them a favorite among wildlife-watching park visitors.
Moose are found in northern forests in North America, Europe and Asia. In Europe, moose are called “elk.” There are eight recognized subspecies of moose worldwide, four of them in North America. The subspecies found in Yellowstone is called Alces alces shirasi.
Moose were reportedly very rare in northwest Wyoming when Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. The population eventually grew due to predator control programs, protection from hunting, and suppression of forest fires.
The numbers decreased after the fires of 1988 burned important winter habitat -- mature spruce and fir forests and summer ranges. Also, predation is likely contributing to sustaining the decreased abundance.
It is more difficult to count moose than other members of the deer family because they don’t form herds. Except during the rut, moose are usually found alone or in small family groups. This behavior, along with their use of thick forest habitat where they are often well concealed, hinders accurate estimates of their population size.
Through the Wildlife, Wonders & Wilderness Strategic Initiative, the Yellowstone Park Foundation funds numerous research and conservation projects that benefit all of Yellowstone’s native species. These projects are aimed at better understanding and preserving the entire ecosystem, such as:
Here are some additional resources to learn more about moose:
Adopt a Yellowstone Moose!
You can adopt your very own moose and help the Yellowstone Park Foundation support wildlife research and conservation.