Sorry for not posting for such a long time! I often ask Jack to take more photos on the road but he’s too busy trucking! So you’re stuck with a few photos of this lovely young moose chomping on willows.
She was really feasting up a storm on Chena Hot Springs Road yesterday.
She’s stripping the leaves off the willow branches.
And doing a thorough job of it!
I bet you didn’t know Moose could open their mouths that wide! (Just kidding, that’s just her lip I think, but it looks funny.)
Here she is being alert. She is actually quite small for a moose that is without a mother. I’m sure she’s a yearling and probably only about 4 1/2 feet at the shoulder (wild guess!). (Calling her a “she” is also a guess.)
We’ve never heard of this before but there’s a squirrel around here who likes to scrape the tines off of moose antlers!
Several times over the summer we heard a mysterious scraping sound coming from the area where Jack’s moose antlers are stored in the woods. We knew the resident squirrel was up to something and sure enough, when we inspected the antlers a few days ago, the tips were scraped off the tines! Jack says he thinks it’s the squirrel sharpening his teeth and you can actually find a couple of references to this on the internet. (Here is a link to a video of a squirrel sharpening its teeth on some other kind of antlers, in some other part of the country. Our squirrel looks much different, smaller and more orange-red. It could be that the squirrel is getting some kind of nutrient from them too and in the video it almost looks like the squirrel is eating the bits of antler.)
Jack hopes to get a chance to replace the antlers this hunting season!
A lady moose visited us the other day, wandering through on her search for bigger and better twigs to nibble. How an animal that size can sustain a pregnancy nibbling twigs, I have no idea. But you can see that she is big in the belly and really is on a search for the best most tender nutritious twigs. She makes her rounds daily I suspect, if our dog’s fear of going outside lately is any indication.
Moose and dogs are natural enemies since dog’s ancestors, wolves, are predators of moose. You would never see our dog trying to take down a moose though (lol). Somehow over the centuries the barking mechanism has taken over for the “try-to-eat” mechanism I guess. You can find examples of the moose-dog feud on You Tube.
So, this one doesn’t have a calf but it’s likely that her hormones have kicked in and she would probably not back down from a challenge. I stayed up on the deck totally out of her reach. When a person jogged by with their dog she was very attentive.
As they ran by, she didn’t take her eyes off of them until they were out of sight. And her ears were locked straight forward. I’ve never seen a moose so obviously aware of every movement in its surroundings.
She might be tough, but look at those beautiful eyelashes!
This wolf was the first serious wildlife Jack and I saw, soon after entering Yukon Territory, Canada. Quite a thrill for both of us. Maybe a little more for me since Jack drives the Dalton and sees this stuff all the time…
Driving near the border of Yukon Territory and British Columbia we saw some bison relaxing in the late afternoon sun.
And then big horn sheep in Jasper National Park.
And here’s our not-so-wild dog Sport jumping over a log, acting like he is 4-years-old again.
Last but not least… us enjoying the late afternoon sun on a mountain in the Black Hills.
Jack had an unusual wildlife sighting the other day on the Richardson Highway (the road that connects Fairbanks to Valdez). A grizzly bear crossed the road in front him, so Jack pulled over for a possible photo since the bear was now on the left side of the road and easy to see from the driver’s side.
As soon as he snapped the photo of the bear, a wolf stood up out of the brush and trotted off, away from the bear.
Then the bear turned around and followed the wolf into the woods.
It’s pretty rare to see a wolf by the road, much less a bear and wolf in such close proximity. Was the bear following the scent of the wolf? Was the wolf injured? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
This musk ox was taking a break pretty close to the road, at least close enough for Jack to get a photo.
Musk ox are herding animals but this guy is a loner. He doesn’t appear injured, but you can see he trampled the snow, probably looking for food, before he laid down for a rest. Maybe he was eating those little twigs sticking out of the snow. Not very appetizing!
Jack sees Musk Ox all the time on the Dalton. He’s never heard of any driver hitting one (unlike caribou and moose who have a bad habit of running out into the road). Good thing, since Musk Ox weigh almost three-quarters of a ton!
Here is a small herd resting near the road back in 2008 when I went with Jack to Prudhoe. If you ever get a chance to drive the Dalton, do it in the fall! It’s unbelievably beautiful.