Story Behind the Pictures by Todd Yankauskas
After a long and harsh winter in the Rockies that had record snow falls even in the month of May, we decided to make our way back in order to observe what has taken place in the "Moose World." It had been just over a month since our last moose encounter. At that time the cows stilled cared for their last years calf and the bulls had just started to show their signs of new antlers. It was amazing to see how a month could make such a vast difference in nature.
Upon our arrival in State Forest State Park, we made contact with two bull moose before making our way to Grand Lake. That evening, as the sun was setting, we saw another couple moose. One was a nice size bull. It was getting dark at that time and so the photos really didn't do the justice that this bull deserved so It was my decision to wait and see what the future had in store before I would share them.
The weather was up and down all week long and it was interesting to see how these animals could adapt to their surroundings so quickly. Even the new calfs were forced into these new lessons that life had in store for them. It was a great experience watching these new borns trying to walk about while their mother would constantly be on guard and making sure that the surroundings were safe. The first calf sighting we had, the cow was tending to her young new born in the thick willows while constantly licking and showing her affection to the calf while chasing away another very young bull moose. This young calf would wobble a few feet before heading back into the willows where it would lay down and wait to see what mom had in store. Twin calfs seemed like the norm in this area, so I guess that is a sign of good healthy moose.
At one incident, we watched a mother cross a river while her two calfs waited on the other side. Before long, one of the twins built up the courage to make an attempt to cross the river. About half way across it was obvious that panic had set in and the cow came to the rescue. An awesome sight to see, the cow reassured her twins through affection and letting them nurse, before guiding the two across the river. Not all the twins seemed to be looked after. One evening we saw a couple of twin moose calves near the shore of a lake just outside of the park. The one moose fed in the willows while the other seemed a bit exhausted and laid next to a tree. Over an hour went by and not once did we see a cow. The two moose eventually tried walking up to us while using their sad little yelp in order to communicate. As hard as it was, when the moose came near we had to walk away in order not to give false hopes or interfere with nature. A local did come by and told us that these two have been there for three days and never once did they see the cow. It was reported to the NPS and in return we were told that they would look into the matter.
The next day we came across a young cow moose that seemed very friendly. Again, keeping our distance we notice that this moose had numerous growths(as seen in the photos below) around her body. As we walked away this cow followed us until we made our way back to our vehicle.
Seeing five bull moose sleeping was something that most people don't see everyday. Well, these five bulls ranged from young to very mature. Each one claimed their territory and fell asleep for hours. As we looked upon most would be chewing, yawning, and dozing off as their years kept them on constant alert. But as soon as they would either roll over or put their head down, it was lights out. In the end everything seemed in order. The moose both young and old adapted well to their surroundings whether it was snowing, cool and raining, or sunny and warm.
Even though we came across the remains of a few moose, most seemed to have survived the harsh winter. Just in a weeks time, the moose, especially the calves seemed to be enjoying themselves. Still unpredictable, we always kept our safe distance because this is their territory and everyone needs to respect that.
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