A moose was spotted in the 1300 block of 4th Ave. SE on Thursday, Feb. 8. (Photo contributed by Alma Sept)

Column: Return of the moose

Our moose is back.

I’m actually not sure if it is the same moose that visited my property last winter, but if it is, she’s gotten bigger and this year, looks to be in the family way, if her bulging belly is any indication.

Last year, this interesting antlered guest stopped by my home for lunch. She seemed to like the menu, nibbling on a few different choices – the magnolia, the mountain ash and the choke cherry tree before feeling comfortable enough to settle down for a nap.

The moose spent approximately two hours in the backyard of my home, which is located in a suburban area of Hillcrest. It was exciting to watch – even when she decided to settle in for a nap before moving on. Watching a moose sleep became the best show around at our house.

This year, she returned not once, but on three separate evenings. Her visits are heralded by barking outbursts from my cocker spaniel. She is particularly enamoured with our neighbour’s apple trees, standing on our side of the lot and pawing through the snow for any fallen fruit or foliage.

She wasn’t deterred by our motion-sensor lights and proceeded to munch her way around the backyard, thankfully avoiding chomping down on the string of Christmas lights wrapped around one of our backyard bushes. The idea of an electrocuted moose caused us a bit of anxiety, but fortunately there was no shocking outcome.

Eventually, the moose hopped the fence and continued on down the street.

Our visitor appears to not be the only moose who has decided to spend some time in a more urban environment. A number of Salmon Arm residents have taken to social media or to phoning or coming into the office with moose news tips.

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. Keeping pets away from them is also important. My dog was going nuts over the moose visit, but she was kept inside until we were completely confident the moose had moved on.

As well, it is important to keep any food sources to a minimum. An urban environment is not ideal for these huge mammals and enticing them to stay with easy edibles is less than ideal. Both for their safety and four ours, these gigantic animals need to be encouraged to move on to wilderness areas.

It may be exciting to see these creatures up close, but it’s far better to ensure those visits are brief.

-Tracy Hughes is the editor of the Salmon Arm Observer and Eagle Valley News

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