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Maine’s Mystery Moose

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 17th, 2007

Killer Moose

‘Mystery Moose’ on the loose

This big fella’s made headlines for 100 years – a walking enigma or one tall tale?

Antlers 10 feet across. A hide so thick it stops bullets.

White. Surly. Elusive.

The sight of him is so frightening, he once scared a bicyclist up a tree.

So intriguing, the stars of Sci-Fi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” gave Maine’s “Mystery Moose” a four-page spread in their spin-off magazine.

It’s a 2,500-pound enigma that’s maybe roamed the woods here for 100-plus years.

A little extra attention might just drum up more sightings, and some answers, said Loren Coleman, a noted cryptozoologist from Portland, who wrote the piece for TAPS Paramagazine’s January issue. (For the uninitiated, TAPS stands for The Atlantic Paranormal Society.)

Newspapers in Texas, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have carried stories about hunters’ run-ins with Maine’s mystery or “Specter Moose.” He’s white or dirty gray, twice normal size and typically just a bit too far from any gun’s reach or so swift he disappears in a blink. (The director at the online Museum of Hoaxes called it “a moose version of Moby Dick.”)

After a sighting in 1900, the Minnesota Freeborn County Standard declared the mega-moose a “wonder of sportsmen in northern Maine since 1891.”

The Pennsylvania Charleroi Mail reported on a “gigantic beast … ten to fifteen feet high, dirty white in color, brandishing immense antlers” in 1938.

Maine Mystery Moose

Coleman thinks hunters are maybe seeing albino game, but there might also be something else going on. As recently as last summer, he got a call from a reporter on Maine’s coast saying that he was hearing from people who’d spotted really giant, brown moose.

“I remain very open-minded,” Coleman said. He’s 98 percent sure it’s not a new species.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife hadn’t heard about the big mystery. “We’re talking about an animal that wouldn’t be able to hide very well in the Maine woods,” said spokesman Mark Latti.

Maine banned moose hunting in the 1930s – the population was dwindling – and restarted the season in 1980. “In those 26 years (of revived hunting), no one’s come close to taking an animal that large,” he said.

(Four or five years ago, a hunter here did take down a white moose and planned a full-body taxidermy on it, Latti said. They’re pretty rare.)

Average bull moose weight, alive, is about up to 1,200 pounds. A big rack is 5 feet across.

For now, there’s no body of proof that the mystery moose did, or does, exist, but the story certainly has legs.

R.W. Bluestroke, TAPS’ publisher, said reporting on the paranormal and cryptids is “like everything else, like politics. You hear it, you read it, you believe it – or not – that it’s true.”

Maine’s one of the busier states when it comes to sightings and activity for those sorts of things, he said.

To wit: Coleman, who keeps a daily blog at Cryptomundo.com, has written TAPS Paramagazine’s February cover story on “New England & the Maritimes Monsters of the Sea” with a top 10 list on “Lake Monsters of New England.” Three are in Maine.

The magazine, just over a year old, is subscription-only until March, when it hits newsstands.Kathryn Skelton, reporter, Lewiston Sun-Journal, February 17, 2007.

Footnote from Loren Coleman: Anyone that has hiked much in Maine and other locations that support the Pleistocene megafauna called “moose” in North America and “elk” in Eurasia, know that these huge animals hide themselves extremely well in the woods and underbrush.

People driving along the rural and major highway routes in Maine are constantly surprised that a moose has been feeding on fresh growth or licking salt next to their road, until it jumps out in front of their car.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


17 Responses to “Maine’s Mystery Moose”

  1. kittenz responds:

    Maybe it’s not a moose. Maybe it’s a small surviving population of Megaloceros.

  2. deejay responds:

    I live in New Hampshire, but have also lived in Maine. I have to admit, unless you go to a known moose hang out, such as the random swampy areas along side of the Kangamangus highway (NH) or something, you are NOT going to see a moose. I’ve lived my entire life, 30 years, in either Maine or northern NH and have seen less than a handful of moose, but see deer on a weekly basis. Moose are enormous animals but are able to hide themselves amazingly well. It’s possible an animal this big is out there, especially in remote areas of Maine.

  3. DWA responds:

    It’s possible. Anything is.

    But it’s also possible, when you haven’t seen many moose, or none, or when you see at a distance THE BIGGEST MOOSE YOU EVER SAW IN YOUR LIFE, that you can come back with a serious – and totally human – tendency to inflate stats.

    Double the shock factor if it’s a white bull.

    Megaloceros would be cool. But not likely.

  4. Doug Higley responds:

    Hunters + Early morning vision after a night on the hard ground + beer for Breakfast + Mist (Swamp Gas? :-) = Giant Moose.

    The story would be if they were spotted in Brooklyn.

    Having lived among Moose (In Alaska not ala Jane Goodall) they are ALL huge! They love black ice on the hwy and slipping and sliding in front of vehicles, legs all askew. Because of their imense size they are a decided and deadly road hazard. The occasional sighting of an albino would be a legend maker anywhere.

  5. kittenz responds:

    Yeah I know, hoping that it’s Megaloceros is wishful thinking. While I’m at it I wish for Smilodon and wooly mammoths too. Lol.

    But seriously, Megaloceros was a widespread genus, and some species might have survived into ancient historical times. Also, several species are thought to have been bog-dwellers with a lifestyle similar to that of moose (which in Eurasia are called elk, not moose).

    It’s not TOO far-fetched.

  6. Hollis responds:

    Moose are not hard to spot in my neck of the woods. In fact, I have gobs of footage I have taken on many occasions when they happened to wander across my yard.
    Incidently, that photo of the albino moose was taken near Bathurst, New Brunswick on 4/23/2006. There were actually TWO of them.
    I have a photo showing both together.

  7. kittenz responds:

    Apparently white moose are rare but widespread. I’ve done a bit of a google search today and found several photos of white and partly white moose, from various locations, some in North America and others in Eurasia.

    Nor do all the white moose appear to be albinos. Some obviously are albino, with pink eyes. But others appear to have dark eyes and that would mean they are not really albinos.

    Moose are part of the boreal Pleistocene megafauna. Maybe white coloration was once more common in the species, in keeping with the heavier snow and ice conditions during the Ice Ages.

  8. mauka responds:

    I have lived in Maine all but one year of my life. It is to bad that I do not see may moose on the coast. I am however wishing I had heard of this alleged animal sooner.

  9. Cryptonut responds:

    I know it’s a moose, but it reminds me of the movie “The White Buffalo”!

  10. RockerEm responds:

    ummm I don’t know much about moose but I’ve never heard of a white moose before so…..this might be something not recorded.

  11. skeptik responds:

    The Norwegian elk is smaller than the American moose, and having elks sleep outside my bedroom window has made me realize how big a moose would be then.

    Last year there was a white elk in Norway that was eventually protected by law after much debate (with picture).

  12. Sordes responds:

    The Megaloceros is often called the largest deer that ever existed. In fact even modern north-american mooses are about twice the size of Megaloceros, which reached only about the size of the smaller european moose, only the antlers were the biggest ones. And even the giant mooses are not the largest known deers. I don´t believe in surviving megafauna in “civilized” regions, and also not in the survival of Megaloceros.

    BTW, the really largest known deer was the broad-fronted moose Alces latifrons which reached a weight of 1400kg and had huge antlers. But it is also only known from Europe.

  13. MrInspector responds:

    I’ve never hunted moose and so I don’t know a lot about them, I prefer elk and carribou, much tastier.
    Do Moose keep their antlers or do they shed them like deer?

  14. Loren Coleman responds:

    Moose are the largest members of the deer family; they are cervids.

    They drop their antlers, and I have a couple, one of which I display at the foot of the “Crookston Bigfoot.”

    From Wikipedia:

    The male moose will drop its antlers after mating season in order to conserve energy for the winter season. It will then regrow them in the spring. The antlers take about three to five months to grow. This makes their antlers one of the fastest growing organs in the world. The antlers initially have a layer of skin, which will shed off once fully grown.

  15. kittenz responds:

    Megaloceros was a genus which included several species, some smaller than modern moose (the plural of moose is moose), some larger. Individuals of some species were close to 3 meters at the withers, which is larger than any subspecies of modern moose. They probably were not quite as heavily built as the giant moose Alces latifrons, which was slightly larger than even the largest known Megaloceros. Although no confirmed fossils of Megaloceros species have been found in North America, fossil material that may be from Megaloceros has been found in North America, but it is too fragmentary to be conclusively referred to that genus.

    The modern moose has a boreal circumpolar distribution, as do caribou and the animals known in North America as wapiti and in Europe as red deer. Alces latifrons was also circumpolar; its fossils have been found in Alaska and northern Canada. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suppose that Megaloceros was circumpolar as well; I believe that it’s just a matter of time until undoubted fossils of that species turn up here. But alas, I doubt that any survive to the present. As I said before, that’s wishful thinking.

    The modern moose is thought to have evolved from Alces latifrons or an animal closely related to it. Maybe this Mystery Moose is a throwback.

  16. Loren Coleman responds:

    I’ve added an old graphic to the beginning of the blog, thanks to Michelle Souliere, and moved the albino moose photograph from New Brunswick to the middle of the article.

  17. alchemical responds:

    You all may enjoy this photograph I took today.

    This guy resides at a sporting goods/gift shop in Errol, New Hampshire and shows the “dirty grey” color described in the article. I am not sure exactly when it was shot, or where, but it’s quite impressive all the same. His size wasn’t anything shocking but the color was just beautiful.



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