Can You Tell a Moose Age by its Teeth?
by Llewellyn Boyd
Moose Jaw from a 4 1/2 year old. - Photo by Carl Kozak
Is it not possible to tell the age of a moose by looking at it's molars? I was told it's the only way to tell right age.
Yes Llewellyn, you are quite right. The only way to be certain of the age of a moose is by looking at its teeth. Often biologists will request to look at your moose teeth when you go through a game check. It is through the observance of the wear on the molars that the age of a moose can be accurately determined. By cutting the cheek to have access to the teeth, wildlife officials may be able to determine a moose age by its teeth.
However; there is a more accurate method which involves removal of a incisor tooth. The incisor teeth are the front center two teeth in the lower jaw of a moose. The tooth is removed by cutting through the gum line on either side of the tooth, down as deep as you can force a knife. Then with your thumb pull the tooth out and downward to pull it free. Once free of the jaw the tooth is scraped clean of gum tissue. Once removed a biologist can age an animal by sectioning the incisor tooth and counting the layers of cementum. This process is going to be done in a laboratory setting, not in the field.
According to Wikipedia - Cementum is a specialized calcified substance covering the root of a tooth
In British Columbia the wildlife branch collected the incisor teeth from ungulates for many years. They used this information along with other harvest data to determine the health of various big game herds.
The following document created by Bill Jensen Aging Moose By Teeth
will shed some light on the process of using molars to judge a moose age by its teeth.
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