500 kilos of Reinforced Meat…on a Stick: Pt. 1

We call them moose but my European friends know them as elk. They’re widespread in the northern forests of North America and Europe. That’s a smallish cow and a year-old calf in the picture below. The cow is around 350-400 kg or so. Bulls are significantly larger; it’s not unusual to find them between 600-700 kg. Right now there are around 115,000 moose in Newfoundland, down from a high of about 150,000 in the mid-nineties. There are 4-5 of them living in the wooded area behind my house. There’s a cow and a bull and they mate each year, producing a calf. The calf stays with the cow until the next calf is born—some time around the spring of each year. One morning the cow and calf wandered down out of the woods (not uncommon at all) and spent some time by my house before eventually returning to the hill.

A Cow and a year-old calf, just in front of my house

A Cow and a year-old calf, just in front of my house

They are tasty :>) Many of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will proudly proclaim moose steak as their favourite food. Me—I’m partial to moose sausage when it’s done right. Moose/elk burgers are popular on both continents. The ones in the hill behind my house are safe from hunting, though. It’s within the city boundaries.

This post, though, is not about food. It’s more about physics.

Start with light and colour. Take a quick look again at the two moose above and note the dark brown colour. It blends well with the surroundings in the boreal forest. Despite the huge size, moose are pretty hard to see when you are in the woods, unless you are used to looking for them.  Most people aren’t. Do you think you would be able to spot the one below against the background at dusk? After dark?

Moose blend well with the surroundings (thanks, Dean Ingram for the pic.)

Let’s set up a situation. Suppose that you are rolling along the highway at 110 km/hr. It’s close to dusk and you are a bit tired. You just want to get home. Moose can move fast when they want to. The cow moose that was chewing away at the trees by the side of the road suddenly decides she wants to eat the branches on the other side so she bounds up on to the road in front of you. Your oncoming headlights briefly dazzle her so she stops to see what’s coming.

It’s you.

You are about 50 metres away when you see her so you lock up the brakes. By the time you hit her your speed is down to 100 km/hr.

Let’s get a quick bit of perspective.

Two Moose by Chopper/Francene’s House

The calf and cow are walking by my neighbor’s house (Hey Francene/Chopper did you see them?) Look at how their size compares with that of the car. Notice also that those spindly legs have placed the bulk of the animal right at eye level.

In an accident, here’s how it goes down.

The bumper breaks the legs of the moose then the bulk of the animal slides right across the hood and hits the windshield. It breaks clean through. The passengers then collide, unprotected with the bulk of the animal, at very slightly less than 100 km/hr. It’s like hitting a concrete wall. The weight of the animal then crushes all of the occupants.

The seatbelts and airbags don’t help. They keep you from flying around and striking things. This time the 500 kg bag of reinforced meat is coming at you.

At 100 km/hr it will be fatal.

For everyone.

There’s a part 2. I’ll post it tomorrow…


About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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11 Responses to 500 kilos of Reinforced Meat…on a Stick: Pt. 1

  1. Maurice; I don’t know if I want to come back tomorrow, still hurting today from this thought! 🙂 Interesting stuff!

  2. Tracy says:

    These are majestic animals, huge in comparison to the red deer we have in the UK and they can cause terrible outcomes when involved in road traffic accidents. A friend of mine recently hit a fox at 70mph and wrote his car off, fortunately he was largely unscathed. I’ll look forward to part two of this post…

    • They are indeed beautiful, and, for the most part quite docile. Bulls can get pretty aggressive during the fall mating season but as long as people keep their distance…no problem. They are generally quite solitary and seem to exude a ‘live and let live’ persona.

  3. jennypellett says:

    How fantastic to have them in your garden – we only get squirrels and they just eat all the bird seed!

  4. Jane Fritz says:

    Thanks for not pointing out that all the NL moose are progeny of a few pair that were imported from NB decades ago. Why in heavens name did somebody think that was a good idea?! We now have nearly all our main highways protected by moose fencing – at an expense nobody wants to know about. The fencing has actually helped reduce deaths from car-moose collisions. Great pics!

  5. bluonthemove says:

    I’ve had reindeer on the menu at Xmas a few times, there is a butcher in London who does very nice reindeer steaks and haunch roasts. It needs careful slow cooking, but if done right is in my opinion much better than beef.

    • We have a variant here called Caribou. They are fairly common in Labrador, less so in Newfoundland, but all the populations seem to be on the decline. On the food side the local consensus is that Labrador Caribou is superior to the Newfoundland variety :>)

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