This study was conducted to clarify the etiology of a high frequency of bone fractures and osteoporosis in the moose (Alces alces) population in southern Norway. Liver samples, both metacarpi, and carcass data were collected from 21 and 22 moose calves shot in 1994 in Birkenes (southern Norway), and Nærøy (central Norway), respectively. The liver samples were analyzed for copper, manganese, zinc, cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, and selenium. Bone samples were subject to histologic, radiologic, and chemical examinations. Three of the calves from Birkenes and one calf from Nærøy showed histologic and radiologic evidence of generalized osteoporosis consistent with osteoporosis due to starvation. The calves with osteoporosis had the lowest carcass weights and radio-opacities recorded. There was a positive correlation between carcass weight and bone radio-opacity. Density, ash content, phosphorus, and calcium contents and phosphorous/calcium ratio in bone samples, as well as hepatic trace element status, were within the normal range for all calves in both populations. Two of the osteoporotic calves, were reported to have been orphaned. Our results indicate that the high frequency of bone fractures reported in moose in southern Norway is not associated with regional differences in trace element status or bone mineral balance. We propose that the occurrence of osteoporosis in moose calves in Birkenes may have resulted from inadequate nutrition following general overcrowding and high pressure on feed resources in the southernmost part of Norway.

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