A hundred meters from the turn into campground B, I am stopped from going forward. I can see several vehicles pulled over to the shoulder and about six people standing outside taking instruction from a lady in a yellow vest and a Parks Canada hat. She has her arm extended out towards them with her palm facing them, to keep people back.
I instantly think someone must have hit an animal with their vehicle and my heart sinks. Next I hear a shot something like a cap gun go off . I get out to have a look but I see nothing, but I hear people on the other side of the road murmuring about a moose.
I return to my truck and get my camera ready in case I get a glimpse. I am the only vehicle on this side, so I am fine parked where I am. To say it was a a bit of perfect timing is an understatement, walking down the side of the road towards me is a set of twin moose. They linger on the shoulder long enough for me to get a couple of photos, then they hop down the bank and head into the woods.
The excitement seems to be over and the people dissipate. I return to my truck, flick on my turn signal, place my foot on the gas and roll forward. The ranger in the vest steps to the side of the truck and through the window I greet her and ask “What is going on?”
She tells me, “The female moose is with her twins just up around the bend in the woods,” pointing with her finger. “A bear was chasing them. We shot him with a rubber bullet.” I grimace, uncomfortable with the thought of having to deal with a bear big enough to tackle a moose. “Ugh, they didn’t have to kill him I hope?” “No, he’ll have a sore butt and will think twice of coming back into the campground tonight.” She smiles, but adds, “Keep your eyes open.”
The moose are well camouflaged in the trees. I roll the passenger side window down and prop my lens on the window frame. Opportunity indeed.
I get out of the truck and take a knee to steady my camera for a clear photo. She is so graceful and barely makes a sound as she moves, pulling leaves from the branches, grazing much like a horse does. I am aware of the dangers of wild animals and I keep a safe distance, but she keeps moving towards me and I retreat to the side of the truck.
She is so close, punching out into the light and striding into the clearing. Her head is turned towards me, and we make eye contact – an understanding is reached between us. I stay silent and she looks towards the babies to give them the all-clear signal. The kids timidly poke their heads out, emerging from their hiding place to come stand beside her. She poses, proud to introduce them. I am feeling quiet honour, remembering the lovely shot the gannet gave me of her newborn in my post Bonaventure-island.
Lucky for the chance to get some great photos as she stays nibbling on reachable limbs. One baby walks underneath her legs, not moving far from her side, the other, a little braver, hops about back and forth to the tree line. We keep each other company for about ten minutes then they drift back into the forest and disappear.
Please join me again for my final day in Forillon National Park, Gaspe, Quebec.
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