Tonya Bina: Of moose and men
Grand County, Colorado
Camping near the shore at the cabin last week, my husband and I awoke to the sound of dogs barking – followed by an alarm like no other.
“Moose! Moose is coming! Moose!” my sister-in-law screamed in our direction.
In her pajamas at 7:30 a.m., she had exited the cabin to investigate the loud barking.
The 700-pound reason for that barking was a now spooked and crazed moose heading full sprint toward the water (and our tents) to try and escape.
Thundering hooves approached wickedly fast as my 2-year-old nephew stood outside.
In a confused instant, the nephew was scooped up by his dad before the moose was in his wake, about to flatten the tent my husband and I were lying in. Rounding the tent, the wild beast did his best to escape by jumping over the wooden fence into the neighbor’s yard.
There, he stood like a statue, surveying the damage while we six family members scurried into the house.
Then we realized one dog was missing.
My husband checked the drive. All he found was a tuft of our dog’s white fur.
We called his name until the German shepherd -totally stunned and shaken into silence – limped toward the house from the shore. The old dog had injured his leg while attempting to escape.
Once he was inside, we all exhaled in relief that everyone was accounted for. We watched through the windows as the moose calmly roamed past the house, then returned minutes later as if to taunt us.
More than one camera was brought out to diligently capture the wild animal.
We couldn’t help ourselves. I mean, what is a moose without paparazzi?
Even after the animal had nearly plowed over the family (the fault ours for having our dogs unleashed) we just couldn’t resist getting his photo.
Fast forward to Saturday, that urge to take a moose photo was multiplied ten-fold as dozens of automobiles pulled over on Highway 34 a few miles outside of Grand Lake.
Two Bullwinkles only partially visible in the distance chomped on willow trees. Tourists screeched to a halt to watch and click cameras.
I watched the “moose jam” from the porch of our home; our dog securely inside this time.
For longer than two hours, cars stopped, people got out, people took photos, people walked across the 50 mph roadway.
The jam eventually attracted a Colorado Parks and Wildlife official and a sheriff’s deputy.
It was only a matter of time – and then it happened.
A moose-gawking motorist slowed his vehicle to partake in the wildlife viewing. The motorist behind slowed to try and pull over, and the third vehicle swerved toward the ditch to avoid the second, hitting the first. A car went into the ditch and four injured people were rushed to Granby Medical Center.
During all of this, even as sirens raced and a train of stalled traffic accumulated on Highway 34, people exited cars to take some photos – not of the accident and rescuers attending to the injured – but of the moose.
So I can’t tell if the human instinct to collect photo evidence of moose is more dangerous than the moose’s instinct when in temperamental flight.
However unintentionally, the moose prevails as the single-most popular celebrity in Grand Lake.
(Please, no offense to Tim Allen.)
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