Ash-Lee Walsh is always prepared to encounter wildlife when she goes hiking with her dog Hazel.
On Monday, May 18 she had a pretty unique encounter when she got up close and personal with a moose on the pipeline trail that runs between Margaret Bowater Park and the Gorge Trail in Corner Brook.
“We’re pretty avid hikers for sure, we go all over,” said Walsh.
The pipeline trail is one they frequent, and she wasn’t really thinking of taking the wooded part of the trail that runs close to the pipeline.
“Low and behold that was probably our very lucky day to be walking on that part of the trail.”
It’s common for Walsh and Hazel to see wildlife on their hikes, especially moose. And she prepares for that by bringing an airhorn and some kind of a signalling device, just to set off loud sounds if she has to, and Hazel wears bells on her collar.
“Just to make sure we’re safe on our hike.”
While walking the trail on Monday, Walsh saw two young moose, and figures they are the same ones she’s seen there before. Her first instinct was to make sure she knew where Hazel was and then to step back. With Hazel in her arms, and time on her side, she decided to let them do their thing.
“We sat next to a tree and watched them. And then one of the moose saw us and got really curious.”
The moose walked right up to Walsh who was able to get out her camera and video the experience.
Me and Hazel have see our fair share of moose on our hikes but this was by far the coolest experience yet !#moosewhispererPosted by Ash-Lee Walsh on Tuesday, May 19, 2020
“I couldn’t believe he was actually coming up towards me. You don’t ever think a moose is going to do that.”
He got so close that Walsh was able to touch his nose.
“He was super tame, I’ve never seen a moose so tame,” said Walsh, who felt no fear. “I made sure I watched for their warning signs. If their ears are tucked back and the hair is up on top of their neck that kind of means they’re a little bit threatened. But this moose seemed super calm and super chill.
“If you’re calm then the moose is calm as well, so, I made sure the moose knew I wasn’t afraid of him.”
Hazel, who Walsh said is a pretty timid dog, just stayed in her arms and watched it all, never barking.
Walsh posted her video on Facebook and has gotten a lot of reaction from it. She said some reviews have been mixed with some people commenting it wasn’t safe. Walsh said staying safe was top in her mind and she was ready to get behind a tree and hide if necessary, but everything worked out well.
“The goal was not to go out and pet a moose that day. It just happened, and it was definitely a once in a lifetime thing.”
Common sight on pipeline trail
Pipeline mountain biking trail in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. 1,977 m access trail or doubletrack dirt/gravel road trail.
Deborah Howe has seen Walsh’s video and considers her pretty brave.
Howe is not sure she could have gotten as close as Walsh did.
“It wouldn’t have turned out well,” she said with a laugh.
Howe walks the pipeline trail quite frequently with her dog Lola and said it’s quite common to encounter moose there and on the other trails around the area.
On May 16 she and a friend were out with their dogs and saw a moose while on the lower part of the pipeline trail headed back towards Margaret Bowater Park. The dogs got a little too close to the moose and Howe said they called them back as soon as they sensed it was getting a bit agitated.
“Not aggressive or anything.”
She said they gave the moose a wide berth and continued on their way.
“It was really calm and just stayed there.”
It’s quite possible it could be the same one that Walsh saw.
“The moose doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of fear,” said Howe.
This is the time of year that young moose are driven away by their mothers.
“And they don’t know what to be doing, or they’re inexperienced,” said Howe. “I don’t know if there’s more of them around or if they’re just getting friendlier.”
What to do when you encounter wildlife
- Make lots of noise when walking on wooded trails or in wilderness areas. Moose, caribou, and bears have excellent hearing and when alerted will often act to avoid human interaction.
- If an animal such as a moose shows any sign of aggression it is vital to provide the animal space and seek immediate protection by creating a barrier between yourself and the animal by using a tree, vehicles, buildings, or any other available structure.
- Never chase, harass or attempt to get close to wildlife for the purpose of taking a photo or obtaining a better viewpoint.
- Individuals encountering wild animals such as moose or bears in a residential neighbourhood should seek shelter, when possible, and contact the nearest Forestry and Wildlife Office for assistance.
- Individuals should be aware of moose behavioru that includes the laying back of the ears, smacking of lips, showing the whites of the eyes, tossing of the head upwards and raised hair on the back of the neck as these are signs of a threatened and potentially aggressive animal.
Source: The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources
Encounter closer to home
Moose are not only being seen on the trails but are also being spotted right out in the city.
Cindy MacDonald looked out her window on Fillatre Avenue on Thursday to find one in her yard. There’s a lot of woods around her, but MacDonald hasn’t seen too many moose there and was surprised to find the young one there.
“You don’t normally see them that close to the house. And he was eating away at the bulbs that I had in my front flower bed,” said MacDonald, who watched him from inside the house.
“I thought by taking a picture of him that would scare him off, but no he seemed pretty calm.”
She didn’t mind him eating the bulbs.
“I figured he needed the food more than anything. He was a bit on the scrawny side.”
The moose stayed for about five minutes and then moved on down to Rowsell Street.
“He was very, very calm, just kind of moseying along and eating as he went.”