The remarkable - and perhaps unnatural - success of the moose (Alces alces shirasi) in Colorado, as evidenced by observations in iNaturalist

@muir @matthewinabinett @davidbygott @aguilita @mhughes26

In the late 1800's, when the large mammals of North America were generally depleted by the human species, the moose (Alces alces) was virtually absent from Colorado (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado).

The appropriate subspecies was reintroduced/introduced to Colorado about 45 years ago, and has become common here.

This success is noteworthy, because Colorado is at the southern extreme of the distribution of the moose, worldwide.

Please see https://coloradooutdoorsmag.com/2021/03/03/colorado-moose-reintroduction/ and https://k99.com/colorado-has-one-of-the-fastest-growing-moose-populations-in-u-s/ and https://cpw.state.co.us/documents/wildlifespecies/mammals/moosereintroductionfactsheet.pdf and https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/moose#:~:text=In%20the%201970s%2C%20there%20were,to%20other%20parts%20of%20Colorado. and https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/MooseReintroductionProgram.aspx and https://www.denverpost.com/2017/06/27/colorado-moose-coexisting-people/ and http://peaktocreekfilms.com/comoosefilm and https://www.aspendailynews.com/moose-flourishing-in-colorado/article_56681247-d99a-5e80-bfc1-effeed27b741.html and https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/many-more-moose-local-population-has-increased-dramatically-in-20-years/ and https://art19.com/shows/colorado-outdoors/episodes/899ceb83-518c-466f-9c27-76207e1ca166 and https://www.coloradovirtuallibrary.org/resource-sharing/state-pubs-blog/viewing-moose-in-colorado/ and https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeMoose.aspx.

The population of the moose in Colorado is reported to have reached 3,000 in 2023. Hunting of this, the largest-bodied game animal in the state, is now routinely permitted.

What is particularly remarkable about this successful introduction/reintroduction is the degree to which it has been apparent to naturalists. Photos of the moose in Colorado, posted in iNaturalist, already exceed 3,000 (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?page=27&place_id=34&taxon_id=522193).

This means that, in a sense, there is one photo for every individual of the moose in Colorado. How could both the moose and iNaturalist have been more successful?

However, this spectacular success is open to interpretation.

Is this a case of restoration of the natural occurrence of the moose, or an anthropogenic extension of the distribution of the species?

Comments from Readers would be welcome.

Publicado el septiembre 21, 2023 01:59 MAÑANA por milewski milewski

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@milewski On a slightly unrelated note, there are subfossils of Cervalces latifrons known from Colorado. I wonder if the extinction of Cervalces in North America was due to the arrival of Alces alces in the end-Pleistocene.

Publicado por paradoxornithidae hace 10 meses

@paradoxornithidae

Perhaps. However, C. latifrons was apparently larger than A. a. shirasi, and about the size of A. a. gigas. So the Holocene usurper was smaller than the Pleistocene species it replaced, suggesting that C. latifrons went extinct for other reasons (predation by Homo sapiens), and A. alces came in partly to fill the vacated niche.

Publicado por milewski hace 10 meses

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