Everything is bigger in Alaska, including the moose

August 28, 2014, 1 p.m.

If things seem bigger in Alaska, they probably are

This state is known for its vast wilderness, with huge swaths of forests, mountains and tundra, and of course, huge numbers of wildlife. Not only is the state home to the largest subspecies of brown bear, the Kodiak grizzly bear, but it is also home to one of the largest subspecies of moose, the Alaskan moose or giant moose, Alces alces gigas. In this subspecies, males reach 7 feet in height at the shoulders, with antlers that can span 6 feet. And they can weigh as much as 1,600 pounds. Females are smaller, but not by much. They can reach 6-7 feet in height and can weigh just north of 1,000 pounds.

As their size might suggest, moose can have a big effect on the environment around them. They browse in lowlands especially along rivers. The National Parks Service notes, "The local moose population at Exit Glacier has often been referred to as the [Kenai Fjords] park’s 'gardening team.' The effects of moose browsing are quite evident along the main paved trail to the glacier. Researchers in the field of moose biology call moose 'ecosystem engineers' due to their ability to affect change in their environment."

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