Thursday, November 10, 2005

don't try this at home, eh?

I bought a set of these placecard holders yesterday for two reasons: one, because they made me laugh, and two, because they kind of reminded me of the Great White North.

On the box it says Elch-Kartenhalter, elk placecard holders and as I look at my purchase again I'm thinkin' to myself, "Hey...these aren't elk, they're moose!" And then I start wondering just exactly how one would tell the difference between a elk and a moose, because there is one very important difference that I'll get to later.

Three cheers for the internet! I now know that what is referred to as an elk in Europe really isn't an elk at all but a close relative of what North Americans would call a moose. Ah ha! There you are. But that doesn't solve the elk/moose problem completely, does it? More research ensues.

This is a moose

this is an elk

See the difference? Neither do I. No, actually when I'm sitting here in front of my computer monitor it's obvious that these are two separate animals, but I'm not sure if I'd be able to tell what was what if one of these beasties came charging at me out of the bushes at 50 mph.

So how DO they differ? Well, the moose (Alces alces) is the largest member of the deer family. It is found in northern North America from Alaska to Newfoundland and Maine and in northern Europe. Besides its size - adult males of larger species can be up to 7 ft tall and weigh 1400 lbs. - other identifying feature of the moose are a long, horse-like muzzle and the flap of skin, known as the bell, hanging from its throat. The fur may be anything from dark brown to black in colour. The antlers of the bull moose are massive and flattened. Moose can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially during mating season.

The American elk (Cervus elaphus ), also sometimes called a wapiti (a Shawnee Indian name meaning 'white rump'), is smaller than the moose, with brown fur and a tan-coloured rump. Now mainly restricted to western North America, elk once roamed over a much wider area. An elk has thin legs, six-pointed antlers and a long and shaggy mane. Elk are more social animals and communicate to other members of their species by 'bugling' - a sort of whistling noise.

So why in the world would we need to know all this? Well, if you ever visit British Columbia, recognizing the difference between an elk and a moose just might come in handy.

I subscribe to British Columbia Magazine (you know, just to torture myself) and in the fall issue there was a blurb about research being done on visitor safety (remember the bears?) in B.C.'s provincial parks. After extensive empirical studies, park rangers came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to repel a rogue elk is to hold a hockey stick (you do carry a hockey stick around with you at all times, don't you?) above your head and wave it around. The elk then thinks your 'antlers' are bigger than his and leaves you alone. Wow - antler envy.

However the rangers also warn that this manoeuvre is not as easy as it sounds, and while it would probably work in an emergency it should really only be attempted by experienced park staff.

And how do they suggest repelling a charging moose? They don't. They highly discourage it, in fact, and stress that a moose will NOT be impressed with your big hockey stick and that if you see one of these animals, you should RUN as fast as you can in the other direction. If I recall correctly, the last line of the magazine article was, "If he's mad enough, a moose will take on a locomotive."



At November 10, 2005 4:59 p.m., Blogger Cathy said...

ironic post for me; I once had a raging argument with a former German boyfriend over the difference between a moose and an elk; too bad the internet wasn't around then. I really like the placecard holders btw.

At November 10, 2005 5:29 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Hi Cathy! - Oh man, I bet that was one heck of an argument. I know from experience that Germans don't like to be wrong. :-) My husband doesn't know the difference either but bows down to my supreme intelligence (well, as of yesterday when I looked it up) on this matter.

At November 10, 2005 8:35 p.m., Anonymous Haddock said...

Wow....thanks again for more survival tips, what with the bears, and now the Elks & Moose I stand a fighting chance of survival should I become stranded in the frozen north :)

At November 10, 2005 10:22 p.m., Anonymous Karl said...

Excellent tip with the hockey stick, eh :-)

If I remember properly:

Elch = moose
Hirsch = elk
Reh = deer

To complicate matters, most North American deer are much larger than the kind found here in Germany so Germans call those large deer elks (Hirsch). I'm also under the impression that Brits don't use the word moose either but I couldn't tell you what they say.

At November 10, 2005 10:36 p.m., Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

I was quite fond of Canada's Moosehead Beer when I was in high school.

My grandparents were quite fond of the Lawrence Elk Show when I was in grade school.

Or was it Welk?

At November 11, 2005 1:06 a.m., Blogger lily b said...

Moose are awfully cute, but I don't think they're the brightest creatures on earth.

I live in an area with a large herd of Roosevelt Elk, although you hardly ever see them around. Elk can jump a 6-foot fence like it's not there and have been known to jump over cars that are in their way.

It's best to avoid hitting moose or elk with your car because either one will likely kill you. Isn't that comforting?

At November 11, 2005 6:06 a.m., Anonymous bangkok expat mama said...

after not being able to visit your site for a few days, i am delighted to learn what to do if i run into moose or elk on bangkok's congested streets -- lol.

my high school classmate lala carried her field hockey stick with her year-round during her commute home on city buses. we used to josh her that the stick just looked silly and wouldn't protect her from a mugger, but now i realize that she was perfectly prepared for any stray elk wandering the streets of washington, dc. again, lol!

At November 11, 2005 7:45 a.m., Blogger Karen said...

Thanks for a very informative post. I didn't realize moose could be so dangerous. If I ever do have the opportunity to visit Canada, I'll have to see if Wayne Gretzky will loan me his hockey stick ;-)

At November 11, 2005 7:45 a.m., Blogger Calamity Tat said...

Blimey indeedy, actually I could see the difference, all sounds abit dangerous though so I'm diggging out my hockey stick for safe measure... Thanks for your help the other day. I've done the transaction and couldn't have done it without you.. I'll let you know on Christmas morning if I need help reading the german instructions!

At November 11, 2005 7:51 a.m., Blogger hippo_pepperpot said...

Where my mum lives in Wyoming, they have moose and elk. My step dad takes pics of them all the time. I don't have the pics anymore... oh well. Moose can be nasty but they look so dopey. I grew up in the mountains in AZ.. we had elk, deer, big horn sheep, antilope... no moose. I love wild life.
I think you should do the google meme w/ your real name. I didn't get much w/ your blog name either.
I have been looking up Bavarian shoes on line...they are very dear.. are they any less dear anyplace else? Do you even live near Bavaria? lol...

wv: quirky saran wrap

At November 11, 2005 1:44 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Haddock - Stay tuned. Mountain lions and coyotes may be next!

Karl - it's all so confusing, isn't it?

Sal! - Hmm...Moosehead? I don't believe I've ever had the pleasure but knowing your impeccable taste in beer it must be good. And it was definitely Lawrence Welk. Adios, au revoir, aufwiedersehen and all that. :-)

lilyb- Yes, you just never know when you're going to see one. A young moose crossed in front of me when I was cross-country skiing once and it was HUGE.

bangkok mama - you've got a smart friend there! Always pays to be prepared.

Karen Wayne can't lend you his stick because he's lives in California now! I wonder if they have moose there too?

Tat - So glad everything worked out!

hippo - Wow - where the deer and the antelope play, eh? I really miss all the wildlife. We mostly just have hedgehogs here. And those martens that eat my car.

At November 11, 2005 2:51 p.m., Blogger hippo_pepperpot said...

Elk are also huge. Once when I was a school bus driver I saw a whole heard. I was driving down a bumpy dirt country road druing a thunder storm, barbed wire either side. To my left there was forest and I saw two of the seven that eventually gently and gracefully bounded over the wire fence. They had no regard for my huge yellow bus w/ about 15 children in it. I had to stop my bus and let them pass in front of me ....they were so close... like right fucking there! It was AWESOME! I also saw coyotes, wild turkey, 1 black bear looking for food, prarie dogs, squirles, and the deer of course. I loved living in the mountains...but I didn't like the snow...and long cold harsh winters! I have loads of hedge hogs here... I love them... I also have slow worms and newts from time to time.
Oh... we had a dog that was crossed w/ coyote when I was a kid. It would leap over our 6 foot chain link fence at night and go and kill other animals... my dad shot it in the head one day when he saw him covered in blood. That is what you do when your dog kills live stock. NE way... I was a country kid to the bone.

At November 12, 2005 9:19 p.m., Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


More on the moose topic, have you seen this?

Funny stuff. Makes me want to eat more apples.


At November 14, 2005 12:14 a.m., Blogger christina said...

LOL, Sal!


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