BOOKS Of Moose & Men: A Veterinarian’s Pursuit
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2012:
Of Moose & Men: A Veterinarian’s Pursuit
of the World’s Largest Deer by Jerry Haigh
ECW Press (2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200,
Toronto, Ontario, M4E 1E2, Canada), 2012. 272 pages, hardcover. $22.95.
Wildlife veterinarian Jerry Haigh moved from Scotland to Kenya, where he authored Wrestling With Rhinos (2002) and The Trouble With Lions (2007). Of Moose and Men: A Veterinarian’s Pursuit of the World’s Largest Deer has emerged from his subsequent experience at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Haigh’s patients include many large animals, but moose are of most interest to him. He spends considerable time describing moose, including the various subspecies of moose, their taxonomy, history, and relationships with indigenous peoples such as the Cree.
Haigh discusses moose ticks, also known as winter ticks, and the problems they cause such as hair loss and skin irritation. Extensive hair loss leaves moose exposed to the cold. Moose often die as a result.
Moose mostly avoid humans, but Haigh introduces a woman named Beryl and her moose companion, Petruska, who was found as a calf. “Beryl is the only mother Petruska has ever known,” says Haigh.
Chapters that cover antlers and moose behaviors capture the reader’s interest. Growing up in New York City, my moose experience was limited to Bullwinkle cartoons. But I have never hunted and never will, and struggle with Haigh’s enthusiasm for moose hunting. Indeed, the Cree and other native peoples hunted moose for millennia to obtain the necessities of life, but the times have changed, and of note is that the reason I never saw moose within a day’s drive of New York City is that hunters extirpated them from most of the northeast in the 19th century.
After more than a century of recovery efforts, there are now about 700 moose in Massachusetts, 100 in Connecticut, and some in the forest preserves surrounding the reservoirs serving New York City. Yet moose remain so scarce and so secretive in their habits that most of us, no matter where we live, will never see one without making a multi-day special effort. –Debra J. White