2018—Sparring Practice

We caught the tail end of the rut when we got to Chugach State Park.  According to the National Park Service, moose rutting behavior peaks in Alaska during the first couple of weeks of October.  One of the rutting behaviors we witnessed is called sparring between these 1600 pound animals which is described as pushing and shoving but which rarely results in injury.  Usually, after a brief sparring contest, the bulls will return to eating.  This behavior is often practiced by younger bulls to get experience as they test each other and sometimes the more dominant bulls.  We watched one group of three bulls spar briefly, then return to grazing, then spar again. The bull with the smallest rack of antlers, the younger of the three, seemed to be the aggressor, testing his prowess against the older, larger, more experienced bulls.

In the first shot, two of the bulls face off.  In the second, the bulls with the smallest and the largest antlers engage.  In the last, the same two take a brief break from sparring to feed, with their antlers still touching.

Alaska Day 2 1767-1


Alaska Day 2 1892-1


Alaska Day 2 1925-1