Two moose sightings in one week

Lori has all the luck!  Not only did she and her husband, Bill, spot wolf pups along one of our Upper Peninsula roads last summer, last weekend they drove by a moose. 

And not only one drive-by sighting, mind you.  They spotted their first moose on Thursday night after the spring school program.  Lori is principal at our tiny two-room elementary school and our seven students performed wonderfully as they shared songs and skits about “Core Democratic Values”.  It was a great program!

To top it off, Lori and Bill saw the moose on their way home to L’Anse.

“But we didn’t have our camera,” she sighed to me on Friday at the school.

That figures, right?  How often are we driving down roads and there stands the moose we’ve been waiting for over twenty years, and where is the camera?  At home on some shelf.

We lamented together.  How sad.  How awful. 

Moose are icons here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Some of our biggest natural attractions.  Even though they existed here back in the late 1800’s, by the early twentieth century they had mostly disappeared.  In the 1930’s, an attempt was made to introduce the magnificent creatures to the UP (captured on Isle Royale and transported to the mainland) but the project failed.

In the late 1980’s Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources staged another attempt.  Fifty nine moose from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, were airlifted into Marquette County.  (My husband covered the historical event for the local newspaper and remembers how one moose was released from his air-lift harness and ran toward the crowd watching its release.  Luckily, no one was hurt and the moose eventually discovered a more expedient path to the woods.)

The goal of the program was 1,000 free-ranging moose by the year 2000.

Fast-forward to 2011.  How many moose roam in our Upper Peninsula?  Sen. Jason Allen has been quoted saying that there are as many as 1,200 moose in the Upper Peninsula.  But the scientists who count moose say the number is much closer to 500 and probably lower. The most recent count in 2009 indicated there were 420 moose in their core area of the western U.P., which includes southern Baraga, southwestern Marquette and northeastern Iron counties. Another 100 or fewer roam the eastern U.P.


So guess who glimpsed the second one of these 420-1,000 moose on Saturday?  You’ve got it.  Lori and Bill.  Somewhere around Tioga Creek, between the Baraga and Marquette County lines, this fella (gal?  You can’t really tell because the male moose don’t don their antlers until later) was happily munching swamp grass. 

This time Lori had her camera!  She got out of the car and began to snap photos.  (She’ll have a job with National Geographic soon and what will our school do??) 

I’ve seen exactly One moose in the Upper Peninsula in all these years.  It happened on a similar trip to Marquette with two small children in tow.  Let’s pretend it was 1991 or ’92 or ’93. 

I was driving home, kinda tired and bleary-eyed.  When suddenly–hark!–what goes there?  Ohmygoodness!  A strange hump-backed HORSE is running across the road!!!  A horse?  No, that’s not a horse.  It’s a–it’s a–(and here the mind tries desperately to figure out what the strange huge loping horse-like creature might be)–IT’S A MOOSE!!!

Wow!  What excitement!  This was in my pre-photography days.  I kept driving down the road.  Three cars following me pulled off the road with their passengers leaping out with cameras and diving into the ditch trying to photograph the fleeing moose.

“Look at the silly people,” I told the kids.

Fast-forward about twenty years.  If I was fortunate enough to have a camera AND see a moose, I’d be leaping out of the car, too.   (Except we are warned to admire moose from a distance with binoculars or long lens.  They have been known to be aggressive at times.)

Thanks, Lori, for your eagle eye.  Please don’t leave the school for National Geographic any time soon.

P.S.  Moose are actually having trouble thriving in the Upper Peninsula because temperatures are too warm.  They stress when the average temperature climbs above 60 degrees in the summer or 20 degrees in the winter.  Our warmer temperatures in recent years have been challenging for them.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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24 Responses to Two moose sightings in one week

  1. Brenda Hardie says:

    Great pictures…thank you for sharing them! I remember seeing a mama moose and her young one up along the Gunflint Trail…you know in MN…as well as a black bear cub. I didn’t get pictures though…the moose were too far away for my camera’s zoom and the bear was close enough but I was a chicken, thinking the mama bear would be watching. I could have reached out and touched the baby bear! That’s pretty awesome about the wolf cubs too! Haven’t seen any wildlife like that down here…if I ever get back out to the Nature Center then I’ll see deer and wild turkeys and pheasants and turtles and snakes and all kinds of small woodland critters :). Tell Lori to keep her job at the school…it would be so much more rewarding with the kids than with National Geographic.
    Take care Ms Kathy…enjoy your afternoon!

  2. Susan D says:

    Oh, wow, wow! Such great shots of the moose! If it wasn’t you catching the sighting, I’m glad it was Lori. Such a treat for a special lady. National Geo. Hahahaha … Lori’d look awfully cute in a safari outfit, though. Hmmmm… I have the strangest sense that your Time of the Moose is nigh. Yes, I do. Hmmmmm…

  3. Karma says:

    Lucky lucky lucky! I’d be jumping out of the car with the camera too! But, sigh, too often I find myself without the Rebel. I have been “lusting” for one of these in recent months: but just haven’t been able to bring myself to spend the money; it would, however, alleviate the not having the camera issue! I’m trying to be clever and come up with my own similar set up for less money.

  4. holessence says:

    Kathy – What, exactly, does a moose do when it’s stressed? Does it relocate to a more northerly (hence, colder) climate?

  5. Sybil says:

    Kathy, you might want to visit Newfoundland. There are too many moose (around 120,000) and car/moose collisions don’t go well for the motorist. Here’s the story:–loose-moose-wreaking-havoc-on-newfoundland-roads

    They are magnificent though, aren’t they ?

  6. Jessica says:

    So jealous. In all the years we have gone up to the UP I have yet to see a moose. I finally gave up on ever spotting one. So you know what I did? I had Dave take a picture of me by a Moose Crossing sign near Tahquamenon Falls. So now I have a photo of a UP moose, even if it is stylized on a metal sign. Yes, I am a dirty cheater 😉

  7. OH WOW! That is a dream of mine, too. Next trip at end of the month to Iron River trip we are going to head over near Amasa where they are often sighted. My plan is scout near twilight. The only other moose I have seen is in New Hampshire in the White Mt. area at twilight. Great pictures!

  8. jeffstroud says:

    How cool is that. Moose sighting ! Thank you for sharing these photos! No moose in this here area, my most recent find are some wild turkey’s !!!

  9. john says:

    I want so much to be up there and go moose hunting with my Nikon in the McCormack Wilderness. I am afraid by the time I get there the flies will already have taken up residence in the woods. I saw a picture of someone who came out with a pair of shed shovels last year.

    Besides time off from work, gas at $4.49.9 a gallon for regular is going to have an effect on how much I will be up this year.

  10. jeff v says:

    What is it about moose? is it their size, funny looks or what? i am as enthralled as the rest by the prospect of spotting a moose. a couple of years back we were driving south on 41 somewhere around Champion when i just happened to catch a glimpse of a moose out of the corner of my eye . we were past it by the time i realized what i’d seen. naturally i pulled into the next turn off and sped back to where i spotted said moose. sure enough he was still there ,all six feet plus ! what a magnificent specimen of a plywood cutout indeed! i got a great picture none the less. my wife points it out every time we pass by.

  11. bearyweather says:

    The moose populations are extremely low in north east minnesota. It is sad that these big, peaceful critters are dying off. When I was a kid, seeing a moose was not an every day event, but it was not rare. Today, it is very rare.

  12. barb says:

    I saw a moose meandering through my side yard early this winter, and my grandchildren saw 3 in the woods right behind the house. Moose are notoriously cranky. I hope they don’t start using my yard as their game trail. In a standoff between me and a moose, there would be no contest!

  13. Dawn says:

    I saw two while living up there in the late 80’s, on road between Houghton and Marquette. I remember the airlift too…saw it on the news…couldn’t imagine what the moose thought being lifted into the sky like that.

  14. OH, I take that back I HAVE seen a moose, on top of a bar up in BIG BAY! lol

  15. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Sounds like your moose will be moving north with many other creatures as global warming continues. These are great pictures Lori captured, especially the second one! So exciting!

  16. Jessica says:

    FYI, I am linking back to you in today’s post over on my blog. I hope it brings you a smile. 🙂


  17. Robin says:

    How lucky is that! Great photos! I have never seen a moose. I had hoped to see one the last time we were in Colorado. Then I read about how dangerous they can be and thought, “oh… maybe not” and it seems that thought was the one answered rather than the previous and following thoughts of, “oh… I hope we see a moose!”

  18. Kathy says:

    Glad everyone enjoyed these. I wish you all a live moose siting sometime in your life. (The one in big bay in the bar doesn’t count, Jane, lol) Sybil, just recently a driver struck a moose. Thank goodness he and his passengers are all OK. Laurie, when they are stressed they don’t reproduce as well, and attempt to move north. Many of them die. So sad. However, I wonder if we really had 1,000 moose by now if our area could sustain all of them? It probably could, or the DNR wouldn’t have desired that number. Thanks again to Lori for sharing the pics and all you good folks for stopping by.

  19. Carol says:

    We saw a couple of moose when we visited Maine a few years ago, but what we saw the most of was signs warning that moose might cross the road. Majestic beasts, aren’t they?

    • Kathy says:

      We have at least one or two of those “Moose Crossing” signs. I looked for them on my way downstate…nope, none in plain sight. Glad you were able to spot a couple in Maine.

  20. Pingback: MOOSE! See the MOOSE? Do you see it? DO you? « Lake Superior Spirit

  21. Sam says:

    Just stumbled across your blog doing research for our up coming trip to the Porkies this December. We are going to be spending New Years eve in a ski in cabin and we can’t wait! In fact only 76 days till we head off on a 13 hour drive to hopefully a snow covered wonder land! I am so hopeful that we get to hear the howls of the wolves during our stay.
    I have wanted to travel to the UP for over 20 plus years now. Thanks to my incredible best friend who also happens to be my soul mate/girl friend I am finally getting that chance. We love to cross country ski so when I came up with the idea of staying in a remote cabin that we had to ski into she was all for it. Like your blog I just stumbled across the cabins in the Porkies.
    I looked up Fitzgerald’s at Eagle River. It sounds like a place we would really like although not being from the area I am not sure how easy it will be to get there from the Porkies that time of year. Looking at the map that is way up there. Would love to try it out if we can.
    Just curious what the locals are saying about this coming winter? I know last year was probably the winter of the century for snow for you. I am just hopeful that there is good snow for our trip. I spoke with the park interrupter and he said while they should have snow, three years ago they did not have any for New Years.
    I am really enjoying reading past post on your blog. Such vivid writing. With the more I read about the UP the more I long to move there. I keep hope they will have a opening for a DNR pilot! Thanks for all the great info your writing has provided us with.

    • Kathy says:

      Sam, I smiled ear-to-ear when reading your comment and feeling your love of the Upper Peninsula. How wonderful that you have the chance to come up here to the Porkies in December! I am sure you will have a great time. It will be even more special since you’ve waited so long for this experience.

      What are the locals saying about this upcoming winter, you ask? Well, many folks are predicting that it’s going to be another hard, cold winter. However, folks are divided about how much snow we’ll get. Some say we’ll get a lot. Others are predicting less because we may not get as much lake-effect snow (because the lake was so cold all last summer.)

      Usually there is enough snow to cross-country ski in December, but not always. You have a pretty good chance, I’d say.

      Anyway, I knew someone was looking through a lot of the old blogs–how fun that you stopped to comment and told me who you were. I will keep my fingers crossed that you will be able to find a job opening up here. Opportunities often open up when our hearts are open.

      Thank you for reading–and your kindness. Have a great trip north!

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