Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/701

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681
THE PLANT-EATERS OF NORTH AMERICA.

only one fawn, but afterward two, and it is believed by the hunters that these twins are always one male and one female. The moose is hunted at the yards, and also pursued with dogs until it is fatigued and overtaken; and it is also shot on the lake-shores and river-margins, in the early autumn, by moonlight. The flesh of the moose, though rather coarse, is highly prized as food by many, and is a very good substitute for beef. The nose and the tongue are regarded as great delicacies. The marrow from the shank-bones is used by the hunters to spread upon their bread and eaten as butter.

It may be stated here that our moose is so nearly like the great elk of the northern part of Europe, that there is still perhaps a question whether the two are of one species. A fossil elk has been found in the marl beneath the peat-bogs of Ireland, which is of an entirely different species from any now living. This fossil elk was ten feet high to the top of the horns, whose tips are ten feet apart!

People generally think of the reindeer only as an inhabitant of the cold portions of Europe. But North America has at least one species of reindeer, although it is more generally called caribou. The woodland caribou, or reindeer (Rangifer caribou), of New Brunswick, Maine, and westward to Lake Superior, is thought by some to be identical with the reindeer of Lapland. The barren-ground caribou, or reindeer (R. Groenlandicus), is found in the arctic regions beyond the limits of trees, and may be only a variety of the former.

Unlike the other deer, the reindeer have the horns present on both sexes. The horns are palmated only at the tip, but, like those of all other deer, are shed and renewed periodically. The history of the reindeer of Lapland is well known, and from that history we learn how useful our own species may yet be made. As is well known, the Laplanders have large herds of these animals, and use them for beasts of burden and for draught, their milk and flesh for food, their skins for clothing and for covering their sledges. The reindeer is a very hardy animal, and draws the sledge of its owner with great speed. In one of the palaces in Sweden there is a picture of one of these animals, which is preserved with great care, from the fact that the animal from which it was painted drew the sledge of an officer, with important dispatches, the distance of eight hundred miles in forty-eight hours!

The caribou or American reindeer (Fig. 2) is considerably larger than the common deer, now so often seen in our parks. Its color is deep brown in summer and grayish in winter. In the winter this animal stays in the swamps, much of the time, and feeds mainly on the mosses and lichens that hang from the trees and bushes, but in early spring it retires to the hill-sides and feeds upon the buds and twigs. Like its European relation, it is very fleet of foot, trotting, or galloping, or leaping, with the greatest ease; and it is also capable of great endurance. For more than a week hunters have followed a