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Travel Alberta and Parks Canada

Moose on the Loose with a Salty Tooth: Jasper’s Wild Car-Lickers

Parks Canada's new campaign – 'Don't Let Moose Lick Your Car' – aims to deter these unusual wildlife encounters

Heading to Jasper National Park for a little winter break? 

Moose licking windshield on Maligne Lake Road | Theresa Malan | The Telegraph

Brace yourself for an unusual warning. 

Beware of moose with a peculiar penchant for licking cars! 

That’s right, these majestic creatures, known for their towering presence (males can stand up to 2.1 meters and weigh around 700 kilograms), have developed a taste for something other than their usual vegetarian fare. 

Thanks to the salt used on winter roads, these giant members of the deer family are now adding salt-encrusted cars to their diet!

So, what does Parks Canada advise? 

Simple: “Observe, take photographs, and move on. Try not to let the moose lick your car,” says the park’s Wildlife Management expert, Tracy McKay

While it might sound like a scene out of a quirky cartoon, this licking behaviour is no laughing matter. It’s all about safety – for both the moose and park visitors.

The Maligne Lake Road is particularly problematic, where moose are as common as tourists. 

The advice is clear: keep moving, especially if a moose seems interested in your vehicle. Stopping isn’t just a traffic hazard; it also risks habituating these wild animals to humans and cars, upping the chances of a dangerous encounter.

Jasper’s car-licking moose have achieved worldwide fame | Scrollable Memes | Instagram
Jasper’s car-licking moose have achieved worldwide fame | Scrollable Memes | Instagram

In the past, tourists stopped and let moose lick their cars, making videos and showing the results on social media, which further increased the frequency of the encounters.

Some people likened it to a free moose-tongue carwash!

Parks Canada had to crack down. They used social media and installed digital road signs warning people not to let moose lick their cars. 

Parks Canada wasn’t just watching out for moose but also for the tourists, as numerous cars ended up damaged as the overzealous moose stripped the paint away with their tongues. 

The new motto for driving in Jasper? 

Slow and steady, with an eye out for any salt-craving moose that might be in the middle of the road. 

Remember, these are not just any roadblocks; they’re several hundred-kilogram animals looking for a salty snack. 

So, follow the rules: Stay in your car, respect speed limits, pull over safely if needed, and use hazard lights – but don’t stop in driving lanes.

While it may sound a bit comical, it’s all about keeping both humans and moose out of harm’s way. As McKay puts it, “It sounds hilarious, but that’s what it comes down to.” 

So, next time you’re in Jasper, keep an eye out for moose, and keep a little extra distance if they start eyeing your car too eagerly!

Moose on Maligne Lake Road | Luuk Wijk | Parks Canada
Moose on Maligne Lake Road | Luuk Wijk | Parks Canada

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