The moose is the largest member of the deer family, and Alaska  has the largest moose. A bull moose in his prime gets to be about 7 feet tall and weighs around 1,200 pounds, all from eating willow stems—about 30 pounds per day. They also eat aspen and birch, but willow is the staple of choice.
The antlers, which are bone, are shed and renewed every year. Full-size antlers can weigh up to 70 pounds—that’s mostly in September during the rut, or mating time. Bulls of near-equal rank and size butt their heads together to vie for dominance. You want to be really careful of bulls then; they are touchy.
The cows have one or two calves, rarely three, in May, and that’s when you want to be really careful of the cows too. The calves stay with the cow exactly one year; then she chases away the yearlings. Sometimes at the start of the summer season you’ll spot a huge pregnant cow with a frisky yearling on her heels, and you’ve never seen a more hassled-looking expression on an animal’s face. But that’s family life.
Moose don’t cover too much territory—about 30 miles a year, mostly in the forest, which provides natural defense against predators. The word moose comes from the Massachusetts Algonquian dialect and means “muncher of little twigs.” By the way, the little flap of hair under the moose’s chin is known as the “moostache.” (Just kidding, it’s really called the “dewlap.”)
Harsh winters are deadly to moose. Deep snow and bitter cold can cause one in three moose in central Alaska to perish. Annually, hundreds of moose make their last stand along the snowless railroad tracks between Seward  and Fairbanks  and are killed by trains that don’t stop for them. Hundreds of other starve to death. Those hit by cars along roadways are butchered and distributed to local people.
If Alaska moose are the world’s largest, Kenai Peninsula  moose are Alaska’s largest. A Kenai moose holds the Alaskan record: at 10–11 years old, his antlers were just under 75 inches wide, he weighed 1,500–1,600 pounds, and he gave his life for Guinness.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge  was specifically established to protect moose, and these massive animals are a common sight along Kenai Peninsula roads at dusk. Other places to watch for moose are within the Anchorage  bowl and in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley  northeast of Anchorage. Drive with care, since moose can suddenly step onto the road without warning, and their massive bulk means that a collision could be fatal to both the moose and people in the vehicle.
Moose can be very aggressive, particularly in the winter months when food is scarce. A number of people have been killed by moose attacks, even in Anchorage. Always give moose a wide berth, especially if you’re walking, on a bike or skis, or with a dog. If a moose appears ready to attack, quickly hide behind a tree, car, or other obstruction. Pepper spray may be effective if all else fails, or you can try to outrun a moose if you have no other options; they generally don’t run far. If the moose knocks you down, curl up in a ball, protect your head with your hands, hold still, and say a few thousand Hail Marys.