By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A moose appeared along the Milk River this week. Some nearby residents hadn't seen one in that area for two years; others hadn't seen one ever. The moose has been spotted lying on the riverbank, standing in the water, and slipping out of sight into trees.
Wayne Chagnon said he's lived by the Milk River in North Havre his entire life and had never seen a moose there. He was driving across the viaduct when he saw one Tuesday night.
"The moose was standing in the river. Just standing there," Chagnon said.
It was a pretty large bull with antlers, he added.
Al Rosgaard, a Havre-based biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said moose seen along the Milk River are probably just passing through.
"Occasionally we'll see some that move into this area, but typically they're not found around the Milk River. About every year we'll have sightings of one or more. A lot of times it's in the summer," he said.
He said the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, Canada, are home to moose, and that sometimes they will follow drainages and end up at the Milk River.
A moose stayed in Beaver Creek Park for a year or two, he said.
Kathye Etchison of North Havre first saw the moose Saturday evening. But she said when she told people, they didn't believe her. A few nights later, many more people saw it, she added.
When Etchison first saw the moose, it was walking across a field in front of her house, going into the trees. When she saw it next, it was lying down on the riverbank on the north side of the Milk River.
"He was big," she said.
Rosgaard said residents can't expect the moose to stay around for long.
"We get some sightings on them for a short time, a matter of a few weeks and not even that long. Pretty soon they're gone," he said
When moose are yearlings, they start wandering, even more so than do other species, Rosgaard said. They can travel long distances. But once they settle, they don't go very far at all. He said sometimes they can stay within a few square miles for years.
The moose spotted along the Milk River appeared to observers to be older than a yearling. Aside from yearlings, certain moose do move around a lot, Rosgaard said.
"Some individuals for one reason or another start moving around and they never do find a place they can call home. They keep getting pushed to different places," he said.
When moose are spotted, he said, it is often along rivers. Moose are browsers. They eat willows, shrubs, flowering plants and sedges.