A very large (by Colorado standards) Bull Moose captured last evening...
Every year bull moose grow a new set of antlers, and each year they grow larger than the year before The soft "velvet" that covers their antlers during the summer months is a skin, high in nutrients, that helps their antlers grow at a rapid pace. Antlers, which are actually living tissue are supplied by blood which is delivered through a network of vessels in the velvet. If you look closely you can see the vein marks in the antlers. Once the velvet begins to shed in fall the moose will obsessively rub its head into anything it can find to remove the excess velvet. Once the velvet is gone the tissue solidifies and becomes dead matter, but at this stage of antler development they are still very much alive, and I would imagine, incredibly painful. Antlers are used in the fall for display and as a fighting weapon during the mating season. In winter they will lose their antlers and a new pair will begin to grow again in spring. It's really amazing to me how fast the deer species can grow such large sets of antlers in such a little time. Moose are dangerous animals, and this one was especially agitated, trying to remove all the velvet from his antlers. He spent most of his time in the willows and pines rubbing trees, but eventually came out and posed for a few shots. Well worth the wait!
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