Moose Wrongly Accused

These moose in our yard may be the same three moose that were accused of attacking a man at a location a few ‘moose miles’ away from us…

Three members of the Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service were wrongly accused of attacking a man.

The Story: “Alberta RCMP now say they are attending a medical emergency… that involves a moose in the area (urban) after issuing a wildlife warning for a ‘moose attack’…”  Date: November 3, 2021, 6:18 PM. Source: CBC News

Later, an addition to the CBC report said: “RCMP had issued a wildlife warning, but have since said the incident was a medical emergency.”

A CTV News report (at 6:52 PM) said: “…when officers arrived, they discovered that the moose, a mom and her two calves, hadn’t come into contact with anyone and the man had instead suffered a “medical emergency.”

Thirty four minutes. That is the difference in time between the CBC report and the CTV report. It only took 34 minutes for the CTV reporter to clarify that the moose did not attack anyone. That won’t, however, stop a moose attack story from spreading faster than the truth.

Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it.
– Jonathan Swift, The Examiner, Nov. 9, 1710 –

It’s well understood that there’s a bias to our sharing negative over positive news, and also a bias to sharing surprising over unsurprising news.
Deb Roy, co-author ‘The spread of true and false news online’ –

Is there an upside to the false part of this story?
Maybe. People might be more wary of moose and stay away from them.
Maybe not. People might try to scare the moose away and that might not end well for the people or the moose.

I’ll be glad when the moose have left the ‘big city’ and returned to their ‘rural roots’!

12th Blog Anniversary and 1000 Posts

Two milestones to celebrate – my 12th Blogging Anniversary and my 1000th post on this blog; (another 87 posts – the more serious and political ones – are at my alternate identity, Counter Current)!

Highlights (and a few low lights) of the past twelve years:

Morgan or Montana Moose – though Mandate Moose would have been a better name…

How many people can say they get frequent visits from the  Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service?
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Three Great Horned Owlets

Our property was also home to a Great Horned Owl family that nested in a large spruce tree on the edge of our driveway.

I also did 138 Wild-life stories that document all the birds, bugs and animals I saw and 88 posts about Plants.
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On the Humour front, I did 95 posts of funny Quotations and 1000 posts that had at least one moment of happiness embedded in the verbiage.
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I’ve posted 45 Craft Projects.  The interior decor of the Red House reminds me of the front of the family fridge when there were school age kids in our house: a bunch of crafts that sometimes only a ‘mother’ can love…
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“Into each life a little rain must fall.”

In 2012, The Car Guy was in a bad motorcycle accident. Man and bike both recovered, though the Harley looked like new after the restoration and The Car Guy  – not so much.
In 2013 there was a lot of rain. Our entire Cabin Community was destroyed. Though we weren’t able the save much from our cabin, the Car Guy did manage to salvage   our old lawnmower!
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My review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of  Covid-19. I did about 40 posts about the virus, none of which went viral…

2, 4, 6, 8… Who Needs to Isolate?
My blogging life started in November 2009 during the peak of the second wave of the novel virus H1N1pdm09 pandemic. It was also known as the ‘Swine Flu’. The Cornell Daily Sun joked about the pig connection with the headline: ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It, And I Feel Swine…’

I’ve also lived through two other relatively serious pandemics – two Avian flus: the  Asian flu of 1957-1958  and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968-1970 . How did all three of these pandemics compare to Covid-19? No one will ever really know. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been tracked differently and the collateral damage from lock downs, reduction in non-covid medical treatment and school closures will be difficult to measure.

Is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a Deeply Offensive Song about Climate Change Denialism?
My blogging ‘career’ also coincided with COP15 (Conference of the Parties) which was held in Copenhagen in late 2009. COP26 (the 2021 version) is in full swing in Glasgow.  21,000 delegates, 13,000 observers and 3,000 members of the media will talk about how to cut emissions… do they understand the irony?

I’ll end this retrospective with this:

My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.
― Sebastyne Young –

Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service – Four New Employees

Three new members of the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ arrived on our property in early October. Mavis Moose and her two calves, Morgan and Montana, worked primarily in the NE section of our woods. They also rested on (and fertilized) the grassy area that covers our septic field.

This calf is demonstrating extreme resting. Morgan (or maybe it was Montana) slumbered in the full side sleeping position for almost an hour. I’d never seen a moose stretch out like that before… for a while I was afraid it had died!

(More Moose Photos:  Mike Jackson’s Resting Moose Collection of Photos.)

Mother moose with two calves

I know that wild life researchers avoid getting so close to animals that they affect eating habits and natural behavior. We have the opposite situation here – the moose don’t hesitate to get close to our ‘habitat’, thus affecting our behavior. In the photo above, they crossed our driveway, then bedded down about 30 ft (9 m) away from our front door.
Mature male moose

The fourth new member of the ‘Munching Moose’ crew was Malcolm. Though Malcolm did do some munching, he was here for only one day. Apparently he achieved his objective with the female moose, then moved on to sow his wild oats in another ‘part of town’.

A rare portrait of Malcolm, Morgan and Montana (I cropped Mavis out of the photo because she was in the deep shade – but she was staying very close to her calves.)

A few days later, there was a grand Munching Moose Picnic in our west woods. Mothers Martha and Mavis  spent a few hours munching and resting while the calves, Morley, Morgan and Montana  frolicked about – dare I say  Moose-capades!

I was watching all the activity from a location about 100 ft  (30 m) away. Suddenly, one of the calves ran directly towards me. It abruptly stopped when it was about 30 ft (9 m) away from me (and the large grey thing with round rubber feet). Then, just as quickly, it ran away.

In another blink of an eye, the mother moose had arrived to check on her calf. She too came to a full stop in the same spot as the calf had been, then turned and casually walked away. This isn’t the first time we’ve observed that these moose are comfortable being near human structures but actively avoid close contact with people.

That’s not to say all moose populations are like that (or that these moose would react the same way every time). However, these moose do live in a semi-rural area that has far more people than there are moose – an area where the trade off for having food and safe places to bed down is frequent encounters with human beings. So far, so good.

Martha Moose Introduces Newest Staff Member

The ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ is back on our property after taking the summer off.

Martha Moose has a new calf and she brought it (Morley) for a visit a few weeks ago.

Yesterday they were back again and ready to go to work. Morley chose a baby moose size willow bush.

When the willow had been reduced in size somewhat, Morley moved into ‘grass mower mode’.

Martha, who was following Morley’s progress, inspected the work done on the willow bush – and decided it would be best to prune it right to the ground.

Now thirsty, Morley executed a perfect ‘reverse direction and lunge procedure’ that seemed to catch Martha right off guard. Morley managed a few quick gulps before Martha let out a bellow and a sidestep that unlatched her baby. Though she is probably several months away from completely weaning Morley, it seemed like she was sending the baby a message.

To be honest, I don’t know if this adult moose is the same moose that frequented our yard last year – though the patterns of travel, bedding areas and foraging choices are identical to the moose and calf that visited our property last year.

For my other moose stories, click the ‘moose’ tag at the end of this post.

What do you call a moose with no name?
Anonymoose.

What do you call the leader of a group of moose?
Mooselini.

I tried getting on a plane with a dead moose once.
The attendant said I had to check it as luggage. I said, no it’s carrion.

Moose – Nature at our Door

Most people never get to see a moose in the wild. In contrast, in our neighbourhood it seems like just about everyone is talking about ‘their moose’ – the sightings are that frequent!

I recently watched a video from the CBC’s series The Nature of Things called The Incredible Things I’ve Seen while Following a Moose and her Calf for a Year.

A field naturalist, Hugo Kitching, spent 13 months tracking two mother/calf moose pairs  in Jasper National Park (Alberta) so he could document the dangers to moose calves in their first year of life. These mountain moose are in decline – death rates for baby moose are high. A year tracking moose in Jasper National Park is a short story of Hugo’s experience. It gives a further glimpse into the challenges Hugo faced in finding and following these majestic mountain dwelling animals (and avoiding the animals that make a baby moose’s life so dangerous.)

As I watched the video, I kept thinking how much easier it would be to do a similar study of Alberta foothills/prairie dwelling moose. Tracking the moose in our neighbourhood, for example, would sometimes be nothing more than walking out the front door. Other days the search for the moose might take longer, but it would be on mostly flat terrain that is never more than a mile from a road… it is easy to see why The Nature of Things never did a video called “Watching Alberta Prairie Moose is like Watching Paint Dry”.

Moose (Alces alces) colonized the Parkland Region of Alberta during the 1980s and early 1990s, and later colonized the Grassland Region by the early 2000s. They are not a declining species here because there are few areas with the major predators – wolves (Canis lupus), black bears (Ursus americanus), and grizzly bears (U. arctos). Cougars (Felix con-color) are also at very low density, although the abundant coyotes are a small but possible threat. Between 2001 and 2014, the provincial moose population increased ~25% from 92,000 to 115,000. (Status and Management of Moose in the Parkland and Grasslands of Alberta .)

One thing that I learned from the video: our mama moose will drive her calf away later this spring in preparation for giving birth to her next calf! Hard to say how far the calf will go, though, since there are already two other moose loosely associated with the mother moose – possibly her calves from the previous few years… but I’m just guessing.

Mother of all moose and her almost year old calf.

Here are all the moose photos I’ve posted so far.

There are about 700,000 moose in Canada. That means there is one moose for every 54 Canadians ! Mostly moose choose to live where people don’t live, however…

To set the record straight, moose are rarely dangerous and they are vegetarians…

 

Treed – Man Vs Moose

Piecing together the story

What I saw: The neighbour up the road hired a Tree Trimmer/Remover for a job that was well beyond the capabilities of the crew at the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’.  The work was such that a man, with a chain saw, climbed a tall tree and then methodically removed branches. When that was done, he would then be able to take down a ‘skinny’ tree that wouldn’t damage the surrounding shrubbery nearly as much.

He had removed most of the branches when I walked by on the road. I stopped to watch, partly because it is quite interesting to see a man confidently using a chainsaw when he is about 25 feet up in the air… and partly because one of the Munching Moose was calmly eating the branches that the man had dropped to the ground.

In turn, the man was taking pictures of the Moose on his cell phone. (This is when I wished I carried a cell phone). I headed for home as fast as my little legs could carry me. Fifteen minutes later I was back at the scene with my camera, but by then the moose was gone and the man was back at work. I took a photo of the man in the tree.

What I was told: The next day I returned to the scene. The owner of the property was out front surveying some of the other work the tree trimmer had done. I told him that I had seen the ‘Treed’ man. The owner said the moose delayed the man’s descent for a while. The man kept throwing branches down towards the moose, hoping to scare it away. The moose just kept on eating. Eventually the man got low enough down the tree and the chain saw got noisy/menacing enough that the moose moved on.

From the perspective of a moose: As I was walking home, I spotted the moose in the aspen forest across the road from our place (about 150 meters (500 feet) from me.) There were at least four of them, possibly five.

I can just imagine the story that one of them told about the adventure the day before: “I tell you, it was raining branches yesterday! They just kept falling from the sky. I ate until I could hardly move!”

Photos of this group of Munching Moose. I’m making an assumption that the four moose we usually see (either in pairs or as a group of four) are always the same moose. One is a female with last springs calf. The other two are perhaps her calves from the previous year/years.

The newcomer to this group is a bull moose with antlers. It might be a younger male, since older males usually lose their antlers by now.

Bull moose on the left
Bull moose with antlers
A moose has poor eyesight but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent.
Moose are not normally aggressive unless they are harassed or it is mating season or mothers with young calves are protecting their young.

That’s it from the land of Munching Moose for this week!

 

More Munching Moose

Two representatives of the ‘Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service’ were here again last week. When I pointed out to them that I really didn’t want any more pruning done, this is what they said:

“Well, we chose your yard for a free complimentary call! I’ve got a young trainee with me. Junior hasn’t got the skills of our more experienced crew, so really needs the practice.

Junior can’t reach the taller branches, so I’ve assigned him to hedge duty. He should have your willow cut down to about 3 feet before the morning is over.

While he is doing that, I’m going to work on this aspen tree over here. What’s that you say? It was pruned just a few weeks ago by our other crew? Well, they missed a few branches. Look at how lopsided it is!

See how we eat everything and never leave a twig behind for you to clean up! Well, yes ma’am, we do leave these round brown lumps on the ground, but we don’t charge you a thing for our Munching Moose Tree and Hedge fertilization program.

Three Moose Morning

Three moose grazed their way through our yard a few mornings ago. Only one of them was within camera range. If this moose could talk, this might be the moose side of the conversation:

Good morning. Me and my two pals were sent here by the Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service. I finished pruning the hedge.  Now I’m going to do an Aspen Tree. What’s that? You don’t want the Aspen pruned? Well, usually the customer is right, but let me show you how I can fix the lopsided growth on this particular tree.

If I was to cut this branch off, right about here, this tree would look much better.

Now, another little snip right here…

There, I’m done this branch. Just thirty or forty more branches and I’ll be full… I mean done. Hope you weren’t counting on this tree to provide any shade this summer…