Moose whisperer: Man pats 'friendly' moose in North Tetagouche
Even if moose appear tame, the public should never approach the unpredictable animals, province says
A New Brunswick man came face-to-face with a friendly moose in the woods near his North Tetagouche home over the weekend.
"I was freaking out, it was a weird experience to touch a wild animal like that," Marc Thibodeau said in an interview Monday.
Thibodeau was with his two brothers and a friend Saturday, when they spotted what they thought was a young female moose across the Tetagouche River in the woods west of Bathurst.
I was just kind of avoiding the moose and walking alongside the river, as if I didn't notice it was there.- Marc Thibodeau
"I wanted to get a selfie with the moose" he said. "I didn't know how close I was going to get."
Thibodeau said the moose wasn't frightened during the picture-taking, and the animal even started walking toward him.
"I decided to put the video on," Thibodeau said. "I was a little bit apprehensive and I was looking to see if the mother was around because it was just a baby moose."
Initially, he purposely didn't look directly at the moose as he slowly got himself in position.
"I was just kind of avoiding the moose and walking alongside the river, as if I didn't notice it was there," he said.
As Thibodeau continued slowly, the moose also walked closer, and eventually they met.
The video shows Thibodeau putting out his arm to greet the moose as it stood calmly just behind him.
For a second, it seemed the moose was not sure about Thibodeau, but then it warmed up to him, letting him pet his nose and head.
"It was kind of a cool experience to just be able to pet it like that," Thibodeau said of the encounter. "I was ecstatic."
After Thibodeau stopped taking the video, one of his brothers wanted to pet the moose but wasn't as lucky.
"He didn't get within 10 feet and the moose took off," he said.
Thibodeau said he's not an active Facebook user but posted the video Saturday evening, and it's had more than one
"I didn't even think I was going to get 100 hits, maybe 200, but it hasn't stopped," he said.
For a regular guy in northern new Brunswick, the attention the video has attracted is "kind of crazy."
A provincial biologist said the moose he's not sure why the animal allowed a person to get so close.
Dwayne Sabine, a moose biologist with the Department of Energy and Resource Development, said it's unusual for moose to allow people to approach, let alone touch them.
"It's hard to say why the animal is tame in this situation," Sabine said.
There have been cases before of tame moose, but this is sometimes attributed to a parasite called brain worm, which burrows into the brains of moose and causes neurological problems, he said.
"At the end of their life, just before they die, they become quite tame and approachable," he said, "They also exhibit other behaviours like walking in circles or lying down and not getting up."
Thibodeau said that when he got close to the moose, he didn't think it looked healthy.
"It's kind of sad that way, but the whole experience itself was crazy."
Sabine has watched Thibodeau's video and said the moose appears to be rather healthy. Without actually seeing the animal, however, he can't be certain.
For safety reasons, the province recommends people never approach wild animals such as moose, which are large and can be unpredictable.
"There is a possibility that the situation could quickly change into one that's dangerous," Sabine said.
He said he is not aware of health concerns that could be passed on from humans to moose, although moose can pick up rabies from other wild animals, such as raccoons.
This year's fall moose hunt in New Brunswick ended Sept. 30.