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Warning: angry moose

Riverlot 56 posts advisory re: rutting season
SIGNS OF FALL — Riverlot 56 board member Georges Binette posts a sign in the natural area advising guests to watch out for moose on Sept. 12, 2023. Moose can be aggressive during rutting season, which runs from mid-September to mid-October. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

Riverlot 56 fans should watch out for amorous, aggressive moose in the next few weeks as the big beasts rev up for rutting season.

Members of the Riverlot 56 Natural Area Society posted signs this week at the entrances to the natural area to warn visitors about aggressive, rutting moose in the region. Moose and deer are relatively common sights in the natural area, which is in northeast St. Albert along Poundmaker Road.

The society decided to post signs this week after several incidents in the last year where guests were charged at or spooked by moose, said spokesperson Georges Binette. The signs detail what to do if you encounter a moose and will stay up for the duration of rutting season, which runs from mid-September to mid-October.

“We’re trying to educate people to not approach the moose, as they can be aggressive to humans and dogs at this time of year," Binette said.

Hinterland Who’s Who describes a bull moose with a full spread of antlers as “the most imposing beast in North America,” as it stands taller than the biggest horse, weighs up to 600 kg, and can have a rack of antlers that spans more than 1.8 m wide.

The peak of moose rutting season usually falls between the last week of September and the first week of October, with the first eight days of October being the most intense, said University of Alberta biologist Mark Boyce, who studies moose and other large mammals. Moose mate now so that their calves are born during the spring, which is when cow moose have plenty of food to eat to produce milk.

Boyce said bull moose are aggressively seeking mates and attacking rivals at this time of year, and often ignore people or oncoming cars in the process.

“(A moose) is the most dangerous thing you can hit with a vehicle,” he said, as their tall legs send their thousand-pound bodies flying right into your windshield.

Boyce said there are about 900 moose-vehicle collisions and nine fatalities from such collisions each year in Alberta. The Beaverlodge and Strathcona County regions are hot-spots for these collisions.

Boyce said drivers should slow down during rutting season and pay attention around sunrise and sunset, which are when moose are most active.

Alberta Fish and Wildlife said moose can be aggressive during the rut or when defending calves. Raised neck hairs, ears flattened against the head, and snorts are all signs of an angry moose.

Binette said guests in Riverlot 56 should stay away from moose if they see them and keep their dogs leashed, as pets can anger moose. Anyone charged by a moose should flee and take cover behind a tree, building, or car.

If you see a moose on your street, close your blinds so the moose doesn’t try to run through your windows and keep your pets and children indoors, Fish and Wildlife advised. Don’t try to intimidate or spook the moose. If the moose doesn’t leave on its own, call Fish and Wildlife at 780-427-3574.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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