Moose Stand-off in Glacier National Park
Two weeks ago I had quite the experience as I watched a moose stand-off come to fruition! I had already wrote a little essay on it and figured I'd share it here too and include some pictures. Here is that story:
At first all I saw was one cow moose wading in the lake from afar. I found a parking spot and moved into position to capture the moose foraging the nutrient-rich vegetation at the shallows of the lake—I was the only one there.
As I arrived I noticed there was not only one moose, but two! And it was her calf! I know how aggressive cow moose can be when their young are in the vicinity so I kept a great distance at the lakes edge. She spotted me immediately as I got into position. She kept foraging, though keeping an eye on me the whole time. I went prone so I could capture this moment from an eye-level perspective while also incorporating the willowed background. The backlit sun really brought out the colors, but I knew I didn't have much time as the sun was setting. I began capturing photos of the family foraging in the shallows, when suddenly something else caught Momma Moose's attention.
While I was captivated by the family foraging, another cow moose had come out from the willows in the distance! Momma Moose shifted her attention to the new moose. Her erect ears and long stares indicated New Moose was a potential threat.
It was almost a staring battle at first then tension broke as New Moose started working the lake's edge. Everything went back to normal, feeding as usual with the occasional lookup to see where each other stood, but New Moose was coming closer which piqued the calf's interest.
At this time I knew something was going to happen. The calf started advancing towards New Moose while Momma Moose had her head submerged in the lake. When Momma Moose lifted her head she noticed her calf was already standing in between her and New Moose. Whether New Moose wanted it or not, confrontation was inevitable.
Momma Moose quickly advanced towards New Moose. She positioned herself in front of her calf and initiated the size-up—New Moose stood her ground. They started circling then approached each other directly perpendicular to my viewpoint inviting themselves in the others' personal space until they were both side-faced. This was the defining moment when you know one is going to "throw a punch" and just as a moose would if it could, did exactly that!
Momma Moose reacted! Delivering two powerful blows with her front legs at New Moose sending it running through the shallows. It ran only a short distance with its ears pinned back, but you could discern it wanted nothing to do with Momma Moose as she stood there with her ears erect. For the next minute or so Momma Moose made sure there was ample distance between her calf and New Moose while they continued to feed.
Behind The Scenes:
The whole scenario went well, but towards the end it got a little too close for comfort. As you can see the moose went running in my direction from where I was lying which slowly led to the moose working right at me. I was ok with this because all the moose there were aware of my position, but that changed when the calf started moving. I noticed the calf got out of the lake and started walking around the trail near the lake in my direction. I saw what happens when you get too close to a momma moose's baby whether you initiated it or not, so I decided I was going to play it safe and get out of there before I was stuck in between three moose.
Photog tip of the day- Keep a safe distance from wildlife when photographing
Kyle C. Moon