Jasper National Park, in Alberta, Canada has a serious problem and they have posted roadside electronic warning signs to combat the issue. Resident moose have been licking salt off cars and park officials say it presents dangers to the vehicles, the drivers and the moose.
MSN interviewed Steve Young, a spokesman for the park, who said that moose usually get their salt, a vital part of a healthy moose diet, from salt licks (deposits of salt and minerals scattered throughout the park) but have discovered that licking road salt off cars is a convenient substitute. The behaviour has been drawing moose out of the woods and onto the roads of the 2.8 million-acre park, increasing the chances of cars hitting them and drivers getting injured or killed.
“If you find a restaurant you really like, do you go back to that restaurant again? Yes, you do. That’s what wildlife do. They’ll go back; they’ll get habituated to it. They’re more likely to lick indiscriminately. If the opportunity isn’t there, they don’t learn that’s a way they can replenish their diet. So we’re trying to take that opportunity away.”
Drivers who pull over to take photograph animals exacerbate the issue:
“What we’re seeing more of is people are a little bolder with wildlife because of the selfie generation, Instagram — people get a little closer to wildlife than they should. The more space between you and the wildlife, the healthier it is for them and you.”
Park officials advice motorists can stop moose from licking their cars by staying out of licking range:
Moose-tongue distance is difficult to put an exact distance on but the guidelines state people should stay 100 feet from animals so that’s a good number to keep in mind. Try your best to avoid encounters of the moose licking kind but if you do end up with one slobbering all over your vehicle, Young admits your options can be limited.
“As someone who’s had their car licked by a big-horned sheep, I realize there are limited options when you’re parked. We do understand that in some situations, patience might be your friend, and the safest thing you can do is to stay where you are.”
— Carolyn Campbell (@_CLCampbell) November 15, 2020