Bull Moose Family at Gullringstorp
I must begin this post with a bit of a background story. This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the opera. Yes I know, the opera in the countryside. Well, thanks to Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, the live opera is transmitted worldwide in HD to theaters. Even in the countryside of Sweden. So the issue at hand was , should I drive myself or miss Don Giovanni. My husband was out of town and he was afraid of bull moose and wild boar on the roads I had to drive to get to that theater. I drive a tiny Fiat Panda and would have absolutely no chance if I had encountered a bull moose on the road. My daughter who is not here in Sweden, thought it was just so funny that I would have to stay home because of bull moose on the road. I did go to the theater that evening and I did drive very carefully, well below the speed limit and with my bright lights on as much as possible. I even scanned the woods and fields on both sides of the road. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time I reached the theater. Oddly enough my greatest moments of fear were not on the drive home but only when I approached Gullringstorp. This is where I felt I could encounter bull moose. Thank goodness I did not, on that evening out.
I had been in bed with a cold when my husband yelled out to me this morning that bull moose were crossing our property! Sick or not I jumped up and with half closed eyes, grabbed my camera. There from the window in my upstairs office, I saw such a magnificent sight. An entire bull moose family! My photos are not as beautiful as I would have liked them to be but here they are:
Bull moose are generally solitary animals and are rarely seen in a group like this. The males are solitary and the females who have a very strong bond with their calfs can be seen together, as a pair. Once in a blue moon , if you are very lucky, you can witness an entire family. This was my lucky morning. There is the mother and her calf followed by the male. What a sight to behold. It was breathtaking and just outside my window. This family had crossed many open fields to reach the forest they were about to enter, on the other side of the road.
We held our breath as they approached the road and watched for traffic. Our road speed limit here is 70 km/h but no one does that, usually they come speeding past at 90 km/h-100 km/h. It would have been terrible if this family had met with a vehicle. They were lucky and passed safely, this time. Most major roads and highways throughout Sweden have high fencing on both sides of the roads to keep the bull moose and roe deer and wild boar from coming onto the roads. It is only when you are in these remote countryside areas such as Gullringstorp or wooded areas, are you in real danger of coming into contact with one of these animals on the roads. Very rarely do you find Swedish homes and large properties, fenced. There are several reasons for this one of which is allowing these animals as much room for natural movement as possible. The bull moose have specific patterns of movement and they are always on their way to or from a forest. Sweden has a lot of forests so there are many places for them to enjoy. It’s just getting there that can sometimes be a problem.
Bull moose are herbivores who need to eat at least 9770 calories a day to maintain their weight. An average male bull moose weighs 380 – 720 kg (850 -1580 lbs). An average female weighs 270 -360 kg (600 -800 lbs.) An adult has an average height of 1.8 -2.1 m (6 -7 ft) at the shoulders. This is average, they can, however, be much taller, especially the males.
Their diet mostly consists of fresh shoots from the birch and willow trees. This is why bull moose are usually found in the forest. During the winter months they can be seen licking salt of the roads. In Sweden we have salt trucks that are used more than snow plows, to dump salt on the roads to melt both snow and ice.
Bull moose have a unique body structure and design ; they have tall lanky legs holding up a very large and heavy body. Because of this unusual body structure, they have proven very dangerous when encountered on the road. The dynamics of their body proportions means that at impact, the bumper of your vehicle will come into contact with the legs first. This causes the animal to fall, with the heaviest part of his body, not only through your windshield but because of the height of the bull moose, their large heavy body always lands on the top of the vehicle, smashing it all in. This is not at all what would happen if you collide with a deer. Deer do not have the tall legs so the damage to the car would rarely be a broken windshield, just a lot of front end damage to your car. Almost all collisions with the bull moose are fatal. They are taken quite seriously here in Sweden. Not only do we have signs warning of bull moose crossings, but people find out about their movements in the particular area where they live, where there may not be signs. There are no signs on our road, for example. People here in Sweden know the dangers of bull moose on the roads and are very cautious at certain times of the day and seasons.
What magnificent animals. It falls on the human species to learn how to live with the other animals of this planet. We require our space and so do they. To be able to watch a family make their way safely to their chosen destination, the forest, is wonderful! It was all about timing, this family reached the road when there were no cars approaching from either side. I just hope they continue to have perfect timing!