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Moose, the New World, and the North Woods States


Moose photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service National Image Library (public domain image).

LawMoose roams the electronic forest in search of valuable information. No one has ever seen a LawMoose in the wild. Pritchard Law Webs' LawMoose bears no resemblance to a real moose but does take some inspiration from the noble moose and the moose's place in the history and culture of the New World and the North Woods in particular.

For example, at LawMoose HQ, we were delighted to learn that no less a statesman than Thomas Jefferson was an admirer of moose -- so much so that he used a moose to illustrate the promise of life in America to Europeans who then held the view that everything in America must be inferior to that to be found in Europe.

See JEFFERSON'S MOOSE AND THE LAW OF CYBERSPACE, as told by a contemporary law professor, David G. Post, in which he observes that Thomas Jefferson took a moose to Paris to display "as a kind of advertisement for the New World":

"Jefferson used the moose to get his French friends to stand back, to gasp and to say: There really is a New World out there, one that has things in it that we can hardly imagine. He wanted them to have a moment of Aha! -- a flash of understanding about that New World from which Jefferson (and his moose) had emerged. He wanted them to share in his excitement about the possibilities inherent in this astounding new place."

Everything you want to know about moose but didn't know who to ask (from the Alaska perspective)


Moose still roam the North Woods (and very occasionally a major city suburb too.) No animal is more loved in the North Woods than the moose. While you will not see a "LawMoose" roaming around, you might well see a real moose. So, in honor of moose in general, we bring you this look at moose and the North Woods states!

The word "moose" appears all across North Woods states in place names:

In Minnesota: Moosecamp Lake, Moosehead Lake, Moosehorn Lake, Moosewalk Snowmobile Trail, Moose Bay, Moose Brook, Moose Creek, Moose Horn River, Moose Island, City of Moose Lake, Moose Lake Creek, Moose Lake Township, Moose Lake (the actual lake), Moose Lake Camp, Moose Mountain, Moose Park, Moose Park Township, Moose Point, Moose River, and Moose Willow River Ditch.

In Wisconsin: Moose Branch Flowage, Moose Creek, Moose Ear Creek, Moose Ear Lake, Moose Ear School, Moose Fair Grounds, Moose Junction, Moose Lake, Moose Park, Moose River, Moose Road, and Moose Springs.

In Michigan: Moose Lake, Moose Lakes, Moosehead Lake, and Moose Point.

To find out more about any of these place names, visit http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnis/web_query.gnis_web_query_form or a good state atlas and gazeteer.

The moose legacy lives on, sometimes accompanied by live moose, sometimes only by the memory of moose vanished to the north as civilization enroached on their traditional range.

But according to John Pastor, senior research associate at the University of Minnesota at Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, "[r]ecently the moose population has been increasing in Minnesota ... and is expanding throughout the Rocky Mountains and New England, Wisconsin, and Michigan[.] [S]cientists have no idea why."

Here are some samplings we've found about moose and the North Woods. (If you know of more, let us know.)

From Minnesota:

  • On February 5, 2002, the Duluth News Tribune reported that there are an estimated 4,000 to 4,500 moose currently living in Minnesota.

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has documented a decline in northwestern Minnesota's moose population over the last twenty-five years. More about "Minnesota's Moose Mystery."

  • The Minneapolis StarTribune reported a "moose on the loose" in the western suburbs" on November 17, 2001.

  • St. Paul had a hockey team called the Minnesota Moose. The City of St. Paul's web site answers the question, "What happened to the Minnesota Moose?"

  • When you order an extra strong coffee at Caribou coffee shop, you are supposed to tell them to "moose it". (We did not make this up, although we think they did. This is the only time we have seen "moose" used as a verb.) Caribou's headquarters are in the Twin Cities.

  • The City of Karlstad, Minnesota, 299 miles northwest of the state capital, calls itself the "Moose Capital of the North." Karlstad, home to approximately 900 people and who knows how many moose, is located in the southeast corner of Kittson County, Minnesota at the junction of U.S. Highway 59 and Minnesota State Highway 11. If you go there, be sure to see its roadside moose sculpture. (And if you like that, you'll probably like seeing other Minnesota marvels, like the Darwin twine ball, an otter so large they named an entire county after its tail (see Fergus Falls - but we're a little skeptical about that story), and more. Check them out. Things like these can take your mind far, far away from the law, if only for a moment, if you let them.)

  • The City of Biwabik, Minnesota calls calls itself the "home of Honk the Moose" and features a regal looking, snow covered statute of Honk himself in the town square. In November, 2001, Minnesota Public Radio ran a feature story, Honk the Moose is reborn about Honk the Moose, a children's book about a moose who wandered into a small town (actually Biwabik) and two boys who cared for him by taking hay from their fathers' barns. After being out of print for decades, Honk the Moose is once again in print, and Biwabik has adopted Honk as a tourist symbol and connection to its past.

From Wisconsin:

  • A moose was sighted, then captured and collared, in the fall of 2001 in Forest County, Wisconsin. It was believed to have come from Michigan. Moose occasionally wander into northwestern Wiscoins from Minnesota as well. See Moose tales from the Michigan border.

  • In the 1980's, several Michigan moose (discussed below under Michigan) "trespassed" into Wisconsin. A large bull moose in the vicinity of Green Bay met an untimely death due to being struck by a train.

  • Despite the rarity of moose in Wisconsin in recent times, Hartly Jackson's Mammals of Wisconsin, published in 1961 by the University of Wisconsin Press, lists the Northwestern Moose (alces andersoni) as one of the members of Wisconsin's deer group of mammals (along with American elk, northern white tailed deer, and Western woodland caribou).

  • Fred Smith's Concrete Park includes a one-of-a-kind, all-concrete moose. Mr. Smith was an acclaimed Wisconsin folk artist. View Fred Smith's concrete moose.

  • Wisconsin played a critical role in the founding of the Progressive Party, which nominated Teddy Roosevelt for President in 1912 and was known as the "Bull Moose Party".

    "Republican progressives reconvened in Chicago's Orchestra Hall and endorsed the formation of a national progressive party. When formally launched later that summer, the new Progressive Party chose Roosevelt as its presidential nominee. Questioned by reporters, Roosevelt said he felt as strong as a "bull moose." Thenceforth known as the "Bull Moose Party," the Progressives promised to increase federal regulation and protect the welfare of ordinary people." ... "Despite an impressive showing in 1912, the Bull Moose failed to establish itself as a viable third party. Still active on the state level, Progressives did not put forward a presidential candidate again until Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette's run in 1924." More about the Progressive/Bull Moose party from the Library of Congress.

From Michigan:

  • There are about nine hundred moose on Isle Royale, a national park island located in Lake Superior. Isle Royale is easily accessible from the Michigan mainland as well as from the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior by ferry. (It's a great place to hike, and you'll likely encounter a moose or two on your hike if you go on the right trails.)

  • The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has an ongoing "Moose Project" based on "translocating" moose back into Michigan from Ontario, Canada. The Michgan DNR's Moose Project Chronology follows their progress, travels, and travails. By 1990, Michigan had published a "Moose Locator Guide" for tourists. The Michigan Department of Transportation's "moose crossing" signs were hard to keep up because thieves found them tempting.

Moose can be found elsewhere, of course, too.

In Massachusetts, for example, the state government site includes a page titled "Living with Moose in Massachusetts" which reports that "Moose are now reclaiming their former range and moving into areas where they haven't been seen for hundreds of years." It even describes how to deal with suburban or urban moose situations."

Maine and moose go together, of course. Maine reports 29,000 moose and provides much more information about how moose fared historically and are faring currently in this Eastern Seaaboard and far northern state.

Finally, if you want to know where you can actually watch a moose, you may wish to consult this moose watcher's guide. It includes recommended moose locations in Minnesota, Michigan, and other northern climes.


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