It’s fall, and that means it’s time for moose to get jiggy. According to the National Park Service, it’s the one time of year that moose are social. By social, we mean sparring, or practice fighting; feeding intensely, especially mature bulls; and the coup de resistance: mixing mud with urine in pits that the ladies actually compete to wallow in.
It’s the rutting season, and from Alaska to New Hampshire, moose are on the loose. From late summer through the end of October, the usually reclusive and reticent animals engage in all manner of what constitute social activities for them. As if the above tricks weren’t enough to net the bull a fetching lady moose, the guys have one more, and this one’s a doosy: It’s called “scent marking.”
As the NPS describes it, “They ?rst dig a shallow pit into the soil with their front feet. Then, they urinate in the pit and splash the mud-urine mixture onto their antlers and neck. Finally, they lay in the pit. The bulls’ urine contains chemicals that help coordinate the fertility of cows that also wallow vigorously in the pits. Cows compete with each other and may ?ght in order to label themselves with the contents of the rutting pits. Bulls may also exhibit the ?ehmen response (lip curling) to gather and interpret female scents.”
Rutting moose can be dangerous, as their behavior is unpredictable, and the bulls pack on about 250 pounds of fat and muscle during this mating season, the NPS says. On Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, several moose have gotten tangled up in backyard accessories, ranging from swing sets to garden hoses, according to a story in the community newspaper the Redoubt Reporter.
Below, two moose have at it in front of a mail truck. They aren’t the first to duke it out in suburbia—check out this video of two bears caught fighting in a Florida suburb.