Originally featured in Points West in Winter 2007
Shiras moose (Alces alces shiras) specimen
Our overarching goal for exhibits in the Alpine-to-Plains Trail of the Draper Natural History Museum is to highlight some of the key landscape, wildlife, and human stories in each of four Greater Yellowstone environments: Alpine, Mountain Forest, Mountain Meadow/Wetland, and Plains/Basin.
When we began to design the Mountain Meadow/Wetland exhibits, it was immediately clear that the moose must play a focal role in our story. The Greater Yellowstone region is home to the smallest species of moose in North America known as the Shiras moose. It was named for congressman, avid outdoorsman, pioneer wildlife photographer, and long-time trustee of the National Geographic Society, George Shiras III. We wanted to present the Shiras moose in a realistic, but seldom-depicted pose—one that would engage our visitors while demonstrating the agility and biology of this magnificent animal.
In preparing for the exhibits, our staff spent many hours traveling through the Greater Yellowstone region, observing and photographing wildlife behavior. When we approached taxidermist Ray Hatfield with the idea of mounting a bull moose scratching his ear, we got some raised eyebrows! But Ray embraced the idea and surpassed our expectations with this mount of a specimen graciously donated by hunter Jim Ross. The mount won six awards including Best of Show at the Montana Taxidermists’ Association Convention and Competition, and Safari Club International Hunter’s Choice Award. It remains a perennial favorite with our visitors.
Shiras bull moose. Scientific name: Alces alces shirasi. NH.305.35