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Return of the 'spirit moose': Pair of white moose spotted on northern Ontario highway
Two spirit moose spotted off a northern Ontario highway between Timmins and Chapleau by Jackie Burns Loyer October 17, 2019.
SUDBURY -- A pair of "spirit moose" has once again been spotted along a northern Ontario highway, as the elusive animals returned to the same area where they captured national attention late last year.
Sightings of the pair of white moose have been reported online over the last two weeks, showing the cow (female moose) and a calf grazing along the side of Highway 101.
(White cow and calf 'spirit moose' seen from Highway 101 in northeastern Ontario. Credit: Jackie Burns Loyer)
Jackie Burns Loyer was recently travelling from Timmins to Chapleau, when she spotted the rare "spirit moose."
"I was so excited to see them. It had been 10 years since I (had) seen them. It made my day. Hope they bring me luck," Burns Loyer told CTV News Northern Ontario.
Though the moose are not albino, as they don't have red eyes, the animals appear white as a result of a similar condition called leucism, a partial loss of pigmentation in the skin and hair.
White moose are protected under provincial law. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) prohibits the hunting of moose that are predominantly white, including any over 50 per cent white, in the area along Highway 101 from Timmins to Chapleau.
MNRF official Karen Passmore, says there are several reasons for these sightings at this time of year.
"Moose are more active during the fall months due to the rutting season, with bulls on the move and actively seeking cows for breeding purposes. At this time of year, roadsides will also have good foraging habitat for moose due to the presence of grasses and shrub communities," said Passmore. "The combination of easily accessible forage, and increased movement by moose during this time of year may increase the chances of seeing moose along roadsides. White-coloured moose are easily seen during this time of year given their white-coloured hair and resulting contrast with the surrounding forested landscape."
Passmore noted there have been many reports of white moose spotted in the Foleyet area over the last 40 years.
Last year, Facebook user Ani Hanna shared a couple pictures on our post about the 2018 video that she says her late husband, Peter Cookson, took back in 2012.
"I'm glad to know she is still around," said Hanna in the comments.
One of the photos Hanna shared shows a white moose with a brown patch above its left rear leg, which matches the spot seen in Burns Loyer's photo.
Several cultures say that seeing a white moose is a good omen.
(Two white 'spirit moose' seen in northern Ontario. Credit: Jackie Burns Loyer)