Why a Moose should not Kiss a Porcupine

Last Friday we headed up into the high Uintahs partly to get away from the heat in the valley, the coolest temperature I saw was 41 degrees and it felt marvelous! One of the other reasons was to scout out birds for a possible camping/photography trip.

Moose with Porcupine Quills in her muzzleMoose with Porcupine Quills in her muzzle – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, -1.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Why would a Moose (Alces alces) kiss a Porcupine? I’m really not sure, perhaps this Moose cow was curious about a slow-moving Porcupine on the ground and got a touch too close. Or perhaps she was grazing on the leaves of a tree and didn’t see the Porcupine until it was too late. Whatever the cause was, I sure felt bad for this female Moose.

Moose cow licking her muzzleMoose cow licking her muzzle – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, -1.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I admit I wanted to hop out of the truck and gently pull the quills from her muzzle but the thought of being trampled to death by the Moose stopped me. She was eating willow leaves when I first spotted her so I am sure she will eventually be ok, she even licked her muzzle a few times. I’m assuming the quills will eventually fall out, until then I suspect her nose will be very tender.

Portrait of a Moose cow with Porcupine quills in her nosePortrait of a Moose cow with Porcupine quills in her nose – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/125, ISO 800, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

When the cow crossed the road I had to lay my D300 with the 200-400mm VR attached on the seat and grab my backup D200 with the 18-200mm VR lens attached just to fit the whole Moose into the frame. Not many of those images turned out well because she had walked into the shade and my shutter speed dropped like a rock.

As she moved a bit further away I increased the ISO on the D300 and tried to get a sharp portrait of her where I had eye contact, this was about the best image of that group. After I took this photo the Moose moved closer to a stand of Aspens and then disappeared into them.

Birds were few and far between that day but I won’t soon forget the encounter with this Moose.

Mia

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