Almost everyone who visits the Gunflint Trail shares one goal: they want to see a moose. A bear or wolf sighting merits a mention, but a moose sighting makes an exciting story, especially if the moose is relatively close.
I’ve often thought that a small fortune could be made with Rent-A-Moose. If we could arrange to covertly let a moose loose in front of all resort guests, it would be a great boost for business. Every guest would leave Bearskin with a thrilling moose tale to retell over and over. Moose stories make people happy.
This year, though, Bearskin has something even better than an on-call rental moose—we have our very own, “guaranteed to be out there when you want it,” local moose cow and calf.
The moose and her newborn originally lived in the bay by the forest service cabin. They routinely stood in the water near the point, across from the Bearskin cabins—close enough for us to see, but far enough way for everyone (moose and guests) to feel safe. Canoeists often paddled over to get a closer view of the calf nursing. Mostly the pair seemed unperturbed by our presence, only occasionally casting an annoyed look at the gawking boaters .
One afternoon about two weeks ago, the little family appeared at the resort. See http://bearskin.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/a-moose-story-in-pictures-2/ The mama moose and her calf stood in the lupine garden, munching on greenery and modeling for pictures until that grew dull. Then they headed eastward through the parking lot towards cabins 9, 10 & 11. They posed for the Gunnink family in cabin 10 for the rest of the afternoon, guests who had waited years to see a moose. The Gunninks determined that, in reality, hours and hours of observing a moose eat wasn’t endlessly exciting.
And that is where the story appeared to end. Except that it didn’t. Ever since then the moose and her calf have been quietly living around Cabin 11. Cabin 11 is a bit isolated, so sometimes what happens at cabin 11 stays at cabin 11. Turns out that the Spolum family, who has been in cabin 11 for two weeks, has been living nonstop in close proximity to the moose. Sometimes she just walks around the perimeter of the cabin; the family follows her from window to window, to get a closer view. Once she was lying midway down the path to the lake. Glenn Spolum said he could smell her well before he saw her. She leaves giant moose droppings along the pathways and makes unexpected crashing noises in the nearby woods.
Eventually the news about the moose spread and guests started to trek down to that end of the resort in hopes of a moose sighting. The moose briefly charged towards guests who ventured a bit too close with a camera a few days ago. She may be “our” Rent-A-Moose, but she is a very large, wild, protective animal mother.
Which leads us to this question: Now what? The next groups staying in the nearby cabins should be fine this week. They are experienced Bearskin guests without small children who are up to the challenge of living in close proximity with a mama moose. For awhile. But after that, what do we do? How do you get rid of a moose whose welcome has worn out? And who would have guessed that could ever happen? “If you give a moose a muffin”…will she go away? Preferably away where we can watch her and enjoy her, but not worry about her.
Story to be continued, no doubt, whenever we figure out what happens next…