Firearm hunters waiting to spot the big one in parts of western Minnesota may have missed the biggest one of all.
A bull moose has been on the loose in portions of Big Stone, Lac qui Parle, and Chippewa counties and possibly neighboring Swift and Pope counties for the last month. And at least as far is known at this point, the bull moose has survived the deer firearm season and remains on the move.
Minnesota Conservation Officer Ed Picht said he heard the first reports of the moose about one month ago. It had been spotted in Big Stone County in the Lake Artichoke area, said the officer.
Other reports followed and soon, confirmation. It came when Lane Albrecht took at look at his trail camera located on his hunting camp land along the Minnesota River downstream of the Lac qui Parle dam. There, plain as day was the image of a medium-sized bull moose. “It was quite the deal,’’ said Albrecht of what he saw.
The moose appeared to be the size of a horse, he noted.
Only days earlier, his uncle had been astonished at the size of hoof tracks he had spotted on the opening weekend of the firearm season. Albrecht said they were likely the moose tracks.
Albrecht said the trail camera recorded the moose wandering through his hunting camp at around 10:50 p.m. on Oct. 29. He has heard recent reports of it possibly being sighted in the Canby area.
Officer Picht said he’s had reports of it near Dawson and along the Minnesota River near the Lac qui Parle dam. Albrecht said he’d also heard reports it may have been near Glenwood and along Highway 40 in Chippewa County.
Picht said he is able to confirm reports of moose wandering through the area about every two to three years. Many suspect that the wandering moose are affected by a brain parasite that is fatal to them. A moose spotted wandering near Sleepy Eye in 2015 was subsequently found deceased and tested positive for the parasite, according to published reports.
Albrecht never did see the moose captured on his trail camera from his hunting stand, and not that it would matter. Picht said he reminds hunters that moose are protected.
He also urges anyone seeing it to avoid disturbing it or getting too close.
It’s the same advice he gives to people when it comes to any of the unexpected visitors that occasionally show up on the western Minnesota prairie. Picht said he’s also had a report this year of a bull elk north of Montevideo. He is hoping to determine if it is a wild animal or if ear tags will show it to be escaped from a game farm.
In previous years he’s also had reports of black bears in the area and one year, was able to confirm through tracks and trail camera images the presence of a mountain lion moving through the area.
Albrecht said he was happy to share his trail camera photos of the bull moose. It’s not often you get to see a photo of a bull moose in Chippewa County, he explained.