Moose as Metaphor
by the Mooseworld Staff
We think people like moose for all of the reasons they dislike aspects of modern life. Moose are gentle creatures that can tell us a lot about what we lose from not being close to nature. If you are lucky enough to see a moose in the wild, it will usually be a tranquil scene of a bull or cow browsing on plants in a pond. If you are really lucky you will be alone with the mooseand both of you will be at peace.
Scientists and naturalists will tell you that moose have another side, that they can become quite aggressive. A bull during the rut or a cow protecting her calves might bellow at you or even charge you. But what is happening in these cases? These are perfectly natural reactions to driving a rival away or protecting an offspring from harm. This is nature.
Moose are solitary animals, which is why your encounter will probably be with a single moose. Despite their imposing stature, they are remarkably quiet, capable of gliding through forest, brush or pond with hardy a sound. They are not predators so they seek no harm. They are, when alone, content.
Our world is in many ways just the opposite. It certainly seems less gentle. Whether it's road rage or rudeness, it's increasingly difficult to find tranquil scenes. The harrowing commute to work, back-stabbing at the office, a surly clerk at the store, television and movies glorifying violence. Is this human nature? Which one of these worlds is more civilized?
The "bad things" in the wild take place for a reason. We recently made the mistake of saying to a naturalist, on learning that the moose population in Canada's Algonquin Provincial Park was down considerably one year due to an unusually heavy tick infestation, "that's too bad." Of course, the response was "but this is just nature."
What we meant was what all of us who love moose and love nature mean when we think about the animals: "That's too bad because now there will be less moose." Less gentle creatures. Somehow less gentleness. The naturalist was right; the moose that did not survive became the mechanism for survival for countless other creatures, each gentle in their own way.
What we don't see at the pond, with the solitary moose grazing on water shield, is a deliberate attempt to cause discomfort, stress or even harm. The moose happy; we are happy. To us, this is a very good reason to like moose.