Thunder Bay

Facial features, body shape will help hunters properly identify moose, says MNRF

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is providing some helpful information to hunters on the difference between moose calves, yearlings and cows.

Distinguishing characteristics can help hunters identify difference between moose calves, yearlings and cows

Moose calves have a small, fine-featured nose, short ears and almost no bell - a beard-like flap of hair-covered skin under the throat. (MNRF)

Fall is in the air and as hunters in northwestern Ontario gear up for the hunting season, conservation officers at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry are providing some helpful information on the difference between moose calves, yearlings and cows.

A moose under the age of one is a calf, while a moose in its second year is a yearling and is considered an adult moose in Ontario. An adult female moose is called a cow and an adult moose is a bull.

According to a written release from the ministry, properly identifying moose can be challenging even for skilled hunters, but knowing some of the animal's distinguishing characteristics should help hunters identify the age of the moose.

Facial features and body shape

Adult moose have a long, over-hanging bulbous nose and a longer, more rectangular-shaped face with prominent ears and a bell — which is a beard-like flap of hair-covered skin under the throat. While calves have a small, fine-featured nose, short eats and almost no bell. 

Conservation officers say a calf will have a short, triangular-shaped face and its head will look shorter and stouter than that of an adult moose.

The body of calves is different from that of yearlings and adult moose as they have a square body shape with a sharply pointed shoulder hump.

Yearlings and adults have more of a rectangular-shaped body than calves, according to conservation officers, and they appear to have more leg than body as well.

According to conservation officers, the body shape of calves is different from that of yearlings and adult moose. This photo shows a moose calf standing next to a cow. (MNRF)

Calves are the shortest, standing at about four feet tall at the shoulder, and they typically weigh anywhere from 350 to 400 pounds, whereas cows stand about six feet tall and weight anywhere between 700 to 1,200 pounds.

While yearlings are more independent and less likely to follow cows as closely as calf moose, conservation officers recommend hunters take the time to search for a nearby calf when they spot a single moose.

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