GROWTH PATTERNS OF NEW ENGLAND MOOSE: YEARLING AS INDICATORS OF POPULATION STATUS
Relationships among antler characteristics, body weight, age, and reproductive potential of moose (Alces alces) were analyzed from check station data from New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont to determine if significant relationships existed between physical parameters, age, and reproductive potential of moose in New England. Sixty-three percent of yearling female moose in NH were sexually mature based on corpora lutea (CL) counts. Reproductive potential among females was classified into four weight categories: <200 kg females typically were not productive, 200-500 kg females typically had 1 CL, those 251-275 kg averaged 1.5 CL, and those >275 kg 2 CL. Body weight of males was best predicted by multiple regression analysis with the variables age, antler spread, and antler beam diameter; weight of 93% of VT males was predicted accurately. The significant growth rate of body weight an antler characteristics, predictive relationships of such, initiation of reproductive potential, and ease of aging associated with the yearling age class suggests its potential as an indicator of the nutritional status of a population. Because moose populations continue to expand in each state, a wider range of habitat quality is needed to further test and validate the usefulness of the predictive relationships.
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