Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Mama Moose and her Triplets
I spent the morning driving around yesterday looking for photos and I found moose triplets! I was driving down a gravel backroad when mama moose popped out of the woods from the side of the road and crossed the road in front of me. Her 3 calves were following close behind. I couldn't believe it when the first calf came out of the woods, then a second, then a third! I've only ever seen them with one calf before, so seeing one with 3 was indeed very special.
They crossed the road and went into a clearing on the south side of the road, where I made a few photos of them from the truck. Then, they crossed the road again and went into an area that had been logged a few years ago. I watched them for a few moments and then realized, based on their movement, that I might be able to intercept them if I relocated. So, I went just a few hundred feet up the road to where there was an intersection with another road, then went a few hundred feet up that road to where there was a pull-off into the logged area.
I walked a couple of hundred feet or so out into the logged area and waited for them to show up. After only a couple of minutes I saw mom working her way towards me through the brush. Luckily I was downwind and she didn't seem to notice me. I was standing on a cut stump in the shade, watching her. A few moments later her calves came out of the brush as they followed her, munching on leaves as they went. Eventually I had to gently make my presence known otherwise I think she would have walked them right up to me. I slowly took one step to the right, then a step back to the left. When I did that she looked up and locked her eyes on me. The calves did the same. That was when I made this picture. They stood like that for a minute or two, then mom turned away and slowly started walking in the other direction, munching on leaves as she went. The calves followed suit.
I was able to watch them for several more minutes as they worked their way through the logged area, eating leaves off the new trees the whole time. It sure was a fun experience seeing this beautiful moose family and I'm always glad when I can pull off an encounter without spooking the animals and making them run away. True, they did turn away from me but they still stayed in the area for several more minutes. By being very quiet and not making any sudden moves I had successfully shown them that I was not a threat, I was just there sharing the woods with them on that morning.
As you can see in the photo, the mama moose has a collar and two ear tags. This is the result of a study being conducted by the Minnesota DNR on the decline of the moose population. I would have preferred if this mama moose had not had a collar or ear tags, mostly just so this photo would look more "natural", but it is what it is. You can visit this link on the Minnesota DNR website for information about the moose study: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/moose/index.html