“DO NOT LET MOOSE LICK YOUR CAR.”
Sorry moose, but that’s the rule.
And it’s displayed on a huge sign in Alberta’s Jasper National Park that was put up a few weeks ago, so no one’s missing it.
It’s a rule officials are urging Canadians to follow this winter in the midst of “an exploding moose population,” said park spokesperson Steve Young.
“There’s more moose around and they like salt,” Young told HuffPost Canada. “They come up to cars, because cars in Canada have salt on them this time of year. People want to look at the moose — it’s a beautiful animal — and we don’t mind them viewing them safely, but if it comes to the car, move along.”
Moose are drawn to salt because it contains the essential nutrients potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Young has been amazed in recent days by the international attention the signs have been getting, from viral tweets to stories in CNN and other outlets, potentially because of how quintessentially Canadian the message is (in both French and English!).
But it helps spread the word, which will hopefully stop moose from learning to seek out cars — and roadways — for salt when they can get their fill at natural salt licks, Young said. After all, more moose near the roads means a greater chance for a collision.
“If you hit a moose, it’s a pretty serious thing for the car, and the moose,” Young said. “It’s about not disturbing wildlife. The more space we can give wildlife, the better.”
Watch: Driver standoff with road blocking moose. Story continues below.
He’s noticed in recent years people are going to dangerous lengths in order to get that perfect Instagram picture of a moose or bear, even trying to touch them. The park has seen a number of “concerning conflicts” between humans and animals, Young said.
In Colorado, a woman was kicked by a moose when she tried to pet it in March, while in June, another woman was gored in Yellowstone National Park when she tried to take its picture from only 10 feet away.
The signs are up in the Maligne Lake area (one of the most gorgeous sites in Canada, bragged Young) where there’s currently a huge moose population. Their natural predator, the wolf, has gravitated to where the elk are, closer to the town of Jasper.
Drivers should also be wary of bighorn sheep and mountain goats seeking out their salty cars, Young said.