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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wintertime: Snow, moose, and mountain lions

Yesterday, I told you that Shyla and I saw a moose cow-calf pair near the end of our ride. Fortunately, Shyla was very mellow when we finally saw them because she'd been playing in the snow non-stop for a while.
And, just before we saw the moose, we'd been practicing some of her tricks so her focus was completely on me.
Just after we'd been playing the "wave" game, we saw the moose pair sprint across our path and up a hill.
They disappeared over a ridge, and we changed our route to stay away from where I guessed that they'd gone.

But, after I dropped Shyla off at home, I saw them again. They were in the midst of a very dense aspen grove, eating the tender shoots and buds from the trees. I kept a long distance away but I had my super wildlife lens with me.

The calf was easier to photograph than his mom, who was even deeper in the aspen grove than the calf. Here's the calf eating an aspen shoot.
The calf voraciously ate every bud and twig he could reach. I believe the calf was a male based on his antler buds. He was a much smaller calf than the one I saw a little while ago. He was about half of his mother's size.
After a couple of photos from a long distance, I departed. Believe me, I have a healthy respect for the anger of a mother moose, and I never want to see it again.

But, contrary to my plans, I saw the pair again on my way home. This time, they were both lying down in the snow.

Again, the calf was a little easier to see than his mom.
He glanced at me but never moved.
Mom never even turned her head toward me although, as you can see in the next photo, she was listening for me. Her ears were rotated in my direction.
Both of her ears had perfect points, unlike the mother moose who charged me three weeks ago. Thus, I feel certain that this was a different mother-calf pair than the one that I saw before. It blows my mind that we have TWO moose pairs near our trails when none have ever lived here before. They've passed through our area, and my trail cameras have captured their images. However, they haven't stayed around until this winter.

Probably part of the reason for the moose population explosion is that they have very few predators in our area. North of us, wolves are the primary predators of moose. We don't have wolves here, and I doubt that people would ever accept a reintroduction of wolves.

Mountain lions occasionally kill and eat moose. The articles I've read say that it's mainly the big male mountain lions who will take down a moose. We've had a female mountain lion in our neck of the woods consistently for a while now. I wonder if she's been near the moose.
She is quite small compared to a moose. In these photos, she's passing the same trail camera as a young male moose passed last September so you can get a direct comparison.
Based on the size difference, I cannot visualize her taking down an adult moose. However, if she could fend off the mother moose, I bet that she could take down that smaller calf that I saw yesterday.
Amazingly, I am more afraid of moose than I am of mountain lions! I'm sure that's simply because I'm used to sharing the forest with the lions but I am not used to moose yet.
It will be interesting to see how long the moose stay around. I suspect that they'll move up higher as our world thaws out this spring but only time will tell.


  1. i'd be afraid of any large wild 'mother' protecting her young - be it bear, lion or moose. i hope things can remain quiet and peaceful.

  2. SHE was a teacher.....and knows that Mothers protecting their young...any species are dangerous!

  3. We suspect a lion would scare off whereas a mama moose would be the one scaring you! Great shots!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  4. Shyla doing her tricks is so cute! <3

    That moose calf is darling!!

    Stay safe! <3

  5. Actually, I see "our" moose more in summer and fall than I do in winter, though I do see moose tracks in the snow when I cross country ski. Yes, they are very dangerous, especially with a calf. I've heard several stories of people being charged here in Summit County. Take care - great photos.

  6. I think moose are a bit more unpredictable than mountain lions or bears. That makes them more dangerous to my thinking.

  7. I so love your pictures. We don't really have Moose around, just deer.

  8. Those are some amazing moose photos and Shyla always looks amazing!

  9. Amazing photos. They are incredible creatures. Paw wave back to Shyla.

  10. Love the photos!

    We are hoping that moose, lion, human and canine live in harmony!

  11. It's worrisome that they don't have predators to keep their population under control. Will some of them be relocated, or will the state start issuing hunting licenses?

    As usual, great pictures!

  12. This was a fun post to read and look at pictures!

    Your pix of the moose are most interesting.


    Jo and the petz

  13. The moose calf is just too cute! We just love your snowy wave, Shyla ♥

  14. it was great to see this wonderful animals through your cam. I rather see the wildlife online it's probably not easy to deal with an angry moose-momma :o)
    easy rider

  15. Yeah, I'd definitely give the moose a wide berth. From what I've heard, they can be rather unpredictable, which I think would make me a bit more leery. I'm glad Shyla didn't get any crazy ideas!

  16. I'm sure they will go higher, especially if there are any females ready to give birth. Those two won't have babies this year. Interesting you haven't seen any bulls.

  17. ID be a bit nervous of a mother protecting her young for sure but what a beauty

    retro rover

  18. I imagine a moose in the wild or any animal with their young might be best to not cross. Love your video clips of wildlife.

  19. OUR walks around the fairgrounds are very boring compared to Shayla's walks wif you...the biggest thing we evers see is a squirrel or a tractor....stella rose

  20. I prefer not to know is along my trails...but I'll never forget stumbling across a HUGE lions paw... The big dogs were on FIRE sniffing it. The chichi we were hiking with peed in the depression left by the paw... I thought it best we go home!

  21. I went back and read the scary moose story, I think you are wise to stay clear. If the mountain lion has a baby, chances are a male cat is around somewhere.

  22. Wow! I saw the word moose in your post on my phone while on the train last week, and I've been anxious ever since to see if you had any pictures! Boy, what a treat!!!


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