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Thrashing: Moose Rut Sign

10-23-13 moose thrashing sign 051During their breeding season, or rut, bull moose display a number of behaviors that are not commonly seen any other time of year, and many of these behaviors leave obvious signs, including broken branches, scraped bark, wallows and tracks. Bulls roam their home ranges, thrashing their antlers back and forth against shrubbery and saplings while leaving their scent. The sound of their antlers beating against vegetation is thought to signal the bull’s dominance to other males, as well as serve to attract females. The pictured broken balsam fir sapling and its frayed bark are evidence of this behavior.

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3 responses

  1. Phil Wallingford

    How would you distinguish this from a buck in rut?


    October 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    • It’s my understanding that both deer and moose rub their antlers, removing velvet and depositing scent from their glands on trees that are rubbed. The rubs of deer and moose are similar, but often at different heights, due to the size of the two species. There is often frayed bark at the top and bottom of such a rub. I don’t believe that deer typically engage in antler “thrashing,” where bushes and saplings often suffer several broken branches as well as scraped bark. Hope this answers your question, Phil!

      October 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

  2. I’m not usually entertained by informational material, but this article is so interesting I was enthralled. Engaging articles with informative content are more educational than boring technical garb. I really think this is excellent content.

    December 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

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