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Make way for suburban moose

Moose sightings in suburban and downtown areas of Salmon Arm appear unusually high
This moose spent the lunch hour at Observer editor Tracy Hughes’ home. –Image credit: Tom Hughes

As some of our loyal readers may be aware from my photo posts, a very interesting guest stopped by my home for lunch recently.

It was a totally unexpected visit. Fortunately she seemed to like the menu, nibbling on a few different choices before feeling comfortable enough to settle down for a nap.

It was a moose, and I say female, but I am perfectly willing to stand corrected because, frankly, while I have some knowledge of basic anatomy, I was not about to find a way to confirm the gender of said moose.

The moose spent approximately two hours in the backyard of my home, which is located in a highly suburban area of Hillcrest. While we have seen deer, a bear or two and had a raccoon visitor caught red-handed stealing tomatoes from my little greenhouse, we have never had a moose.

My husband watched as the large animal stepped over the four-foot-high section of fence before browsing around on some cedars and other assorted foliage. As he took pictures through the window, the moose paid him some attention, but remained largely unconcerned by his spying.

After the snack, she sniffed around, found a nice spot near my apparently tasty magnolia tree and curled up on the ground for a bit of a snooze. A little shut-eye seemed to be just the ticket, and following that, the animal, which came close in size to our six-foot-back fence, decided to look for other pastures, hopped the fence and continued on down the street.

And our visitor appears to not be the only moose who has decided to spend some time in a more urban environment. We recently had a front page picture of a young moose browsing around the McGuire Lake area, one which was obviously different than my visitor. I have also seen shots of a mother moose with a calf, also in the Hillcrest area. Since my sighting, people have taken to social media or to phoning or coming into the office with moose news tips. Almost daily, there are reports, photos and video of the huge, gangly animals in various suburban neighbourhoods, parks and trails.

People are clearly excited about our wild guests. But I would like to also advise caution. Moose are wild creatures. They are huge and powerful. Tangling with one would be no contest — the moose would win. While getting a photo or a video for your Facebook page might be nice, animals can be unpredictable and you wouldn’t want to end up harmed. Please remember to give these creatures a wide berth so they do not feel threatened.

As well, drivers should be aware of the animals. There are moose warning signs posted on Highway 97B in the South Canoe areas and around the Salmon Arm Golf Course, to alert motorists to the potential of these huge animals, but no such warnings exist on suburban streets. I’d hate to hear of a moose bit hit or killed by a car, not to mention the injuries that hitting such a hefty animal could inflict on the people inside the vehicle.

While it is certainly exciting to see such a magificent creature, keeping a cool head can ensure the safety of both people and animal — and allow those moose to remain on the loose.