When Mom and Dad moved to Pemberton in the early fifties, moose were plentiful and somewhat of a nuisance to farmers, apparently, as they tore through fences and were attracted to domestic cows during the rut. There were many stories of encounters with moose on winter roads wherein drivers had to wait out the moose in order to proceed since high banks of snow prevented the moose from escaping easily.
In 1960, and for a few seasons thereafter, there was an open season on hunting moose and the population was wiped out.
Eventually, moose began to repopulate the valley and I recall taking part in a moose study when I was in grade eleven in 1976. This study entailed crashing through dense willows and swampy areas to count piles of moose dung. Apparently, this study was very helpful to the biologists but I didn’t quite get that as a sixteen year old.
Maybe if I’d ever seen a moose I would have participated more readily.
I finally saw a moose in Pemberton when I was about thirty. My husband and I had driven up the south side of the valley and there in the middle of a quintessential moose swamp stood a moose.
I marvelled at the features that make these creatures seem like they belong to another time period – their disproportionate frames and the funny dangling dew drop which may be used for dispensing scent during the rut.
Since that first sighting, I’ve seen several moose as we often go on drives for the sole purpose of spotting and photographing wildlife. A few weeks ago, as the rains were settling in and dusk was shading the landscape, Gary pointed to some piles of brush on a sandbar and a cow and a calf seemed to emerge from the stumps.
For such large creatures, they camouflage well.
We watched as they sauntered across the sand and I couldn’t help but anthropomorphize the situation as the calf appeared very petulant; it reminded me of my sixteen year old self stomping through the underbrush because that’s what I’d been told to do. They vanished just as seamlessly as they had appeared.