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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Alces alces
Original name, or synonym is Cervus alces Linnaeus, 1758.

Common Name:


L&C Pass area, Montana   July 7, 1806

The most elusive deer

Moose reign as the largest species of deer on the continent, and also as one of the largest land mammals in North America, surpassed only by the largest grizzly bears and bison.  Moose occur throughout the Northern Hemisphere and likely spread to North America from Asia across the Bering land bridge around 10,000 years ago. 

Spending as much time on the Plains as Lewis and Clark did, there was little opportunity for seeing moose, a browsing animal preferring northern forests.  In fact, there are only two passages noting referring to moose seen by the Corps, one written by Lewis and another by Ordway, and no record of killing one, which they surely would have done given any opportunity. 

During Lewis's exploration of the Maria's River and search for a shortcut to the Missouri on the return trip, the first moose was shot and wounded, though not collected.

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Lewis, June 2, 1806--The Indians inform us that there are a plenty of Moos to the S.E. of them on the East branch [Salmon River] of ...  more>>

References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 10, 2 vols, Holmiae: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii, 1758

See following caption
moose with calf

See following caption
two males in velvet

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