These two species are the most misidentified by hunters in Colorado. Can you tell the difference between them?


If you’ve ever seen moose or elk in person, you might think the two species are easily distinguishable, but according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), confusing the two is the most common mistake hunters make. from Colorado.

“In recent years, CPW has seen more young bull moose in the landscape, leading some elk hunters to mistakenly shoot a moose,” CPW said in a press release.

“Moose and elk often share the same habitats, which can be confusing. Yet there are several key differences that hunters can see to identify between the two.”

Moose were reintroduced to Colorado in the 1990s, according to CPW. Today, the moose population is healthy and growing, with approximately 460 moose in the southwestern region of the state. They are the largest animals in Colorado, standing between 6 and 7 feet tall at the shoulder. At their largest, moose can weigh up to 1000 pounds.

On the other hand, elk are usually between 5 and 6 feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 600 pounds. Make no mistake, though, as elk can be massive on their own.

“The differences in antlers will be apparent when hunting bulls. Moose antlers will grow out the sides of their heads, while elk antlers grow backwards on their body. Moose antlers have a main beam with long spikes sticking out of it, while the moose antlers growing outward have a paddle shape with many spots growing out of the thick paddle-like part,” the statement read.

Elk are also generally lighter in color than moose and have a sharper, more pointed nose. Moose also develop a flap of skin under their chin called a dewlap or bell, elk do not have this trait.

Let’s put your knowledge to the test:

Moose or elk?

File photo. Photo credit: John Morrison (iStock).

Fair enough, it was a pretty easy warm-up. It is a moose, and it is clearly identifiable by its paddle-like antlers, dark brown fur, and round nose.

Let’s try a harder one.

Moose or elk?

The moose flees in the pine forest of the Albion basin

Photo credit: ablokhine. File photo. (Stock)

Do you think you have it?

This photo is a great example of why moose and elk are so easily confused. From this angle, the one from which hunters can position themselves, the female moose is a little more difficult to identify. However, his dark fur and stocky stature are the giveaway.

Last test:


Photo credit: Marc Alexandre. File photo. (Stock)

Do you think you have it?

This, of course, is a photo of a small herd of elk. They are best identified by their pointed branch-like antlers and soft brown fur.

“We want to remind people to please correctly identify their target before shooting an animal. If a mistake is made, it is important that it is immediately reported honestly to our office,” said CPW Wildlife Manager Adrian Archuleta, who oversees the Durango office.

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