Saturday morning we arose to find unexpected footprints in the door yard. As we examined them, we found more and more, all over our homestead and extending on the trail up the ridge.
Because the weather has been so dry lately, the indefinite impressions were hard to decipher. A moose had come through, that seemed fairly clear, but there was something else—similar, but much smaller and lighter. Calf prints.
Later that day we followed the pair’s trail as we hiked out to go to town. On Mud Bay we found the mother’s tracks in the muddy sand, with the calf’s prints carefully placed within each one.
This discovery produces mixed feelings. It’s calving season. We expect, and are glad to see that the local moose population is reproducing. On the other hand, a cow moose with a newborn calf is just about the most dangerous animal to frequent our peninsula.
Moose calves are born here every year. Residents become particularly alert to moose during the season, but encounters are rare. A couple of years ago, a nervous young cow chose a nursery area that straddled several forest trails. We know of one unpleasant incident where a neighbor had to run from her, but we used one of the trails almost daily without ever seeing the pair, even though we sighted them frequently on the bay.
Mostly, the cows keep their newborns out of humans’ way. For this reason, we never expected a mother-child “tour” of the homestead!
Interestingly, nothing got browsed, not even the new blooms on our cherry trees. I thought that would be a sweet treat for a moose. We think they may have come down to drink from one of our rain barrels. For whatever reason, we’re going to have to remain on guard for the next few months, particularly on necessary visits at night. If they should decide to come back before the calf is old enough for the mother to calm down when people are near, we don’t want to inadvertently come between them.