The Yukon moose, often weighing in at over 725 kg (1600 pounds), is the largest member of the deer family. The Bull Moose (adult male) can weigh well over 800 kilograms. They inhabit all areas of the Yukon except for extremely rugged mountain terrain.
They eat soft vegetation and are most commonly seen browsing on willow along streams and lake shores. Moose are surprisingly strong swimmers and will dive to depths of 6 meters (20 feet) to reach succulent submerged vegetation. Bull moose in their prime have little to fear from predators but wolves and grizzly bears take their toll among smaller moose during winter and spring.
It is believed that moose gradually came to the Yukon from British Columbia during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This influx is believed to have occurred because of the increase of forest fires cause by careless prospectors. Burnt forest areas grow new soft vegetation such as leaves and young shoots which provide the moose with choice food. At the time of the influx, the numbers in the caribou herds dwindled and First Nations people had to develop new techniques to hunt the new big game animal. Moose differed from caribou in that moose remain in the same area year round and that they are only hunted in late summer and early fall before the rutting season (mating season) when meat is still palatable. Moose are skittish and must be hunted with great skill and agility. The Yukon First Nations hunters devised several different ways to hunt moose and other big game. Special fences that narrowed would be set with snares to trap the moose. More commonly, a single snare would be set along a path with some evidence of moose activity. Once the animal was caught the animal would strangle to death or a hunter would be close by to finish the kill. Bow and arrows and later guns were also used for the moose hunt. Moose provided much sustenance to a family and the catch of a moose allowed for several weeks of food.
Kluane Museum of History, Burwash Landing