'Uncommon' moose roams area


January 22, 2021

A moose was captured on a trail cam south of Pine Valley in Cloquet this month. The owner of the trail cam shared the photos but declined to be identified because she doesn't want people to look for the moose.

It appears there's a male moose loose in the city of Cloquet, or rather the woods surrounding it.

Earlier this month, a handful of residents spotted the large antlered animal not far from Armory Road in Cloquet and shared their stories on Facebook. On Friday, the moose posed for a few photos on a trail cam south of Pine Valley. The owner of the trail cam shared the photos - and at least one past moose story - with the Pine Knot News, but declined to be identified because she doesn't want people to come looking for "Mister Moose."

Cloquet Department of Natural Resources supervisor Chris Balzer is also encouraging people to avoid the moose, although they can certainly enjoy a lucky sighting.

"It's definitely uncommon," Balzer said, when asked about seeing a moose in the Cloquet area. "I've been here 20 years, and I've heard of three or four. They don't tend to hang around. It's probably just passing through, looking for friends but not having much luck."

He recalled a moose visit a few years ago along the St. Louis River near the Sappi paper mill.

"We're not far from where moose are more regularly," Balzer said. "Up by Canyon there's a low density residential population, and there's been a very low density population in the Fond du Lac Forest near here. So we're right on the edge."

The unnamed trail cam owner said a moose once walked through the electric fence surrounding their animals - but they didn't actually see it, the hoofprints told the tale after the fact.

Balzer has seen quite a few moose in his career, because he is an alternate for the annual moose survey, which is usually in January. The survey was canceled this year because of the pandemic. According to the last survey, Minnesota's moose population of 2,400-4,320 animals was stable for the ninth year in a row, after dropping by more an estimated 64 percent from 2006-2012 according to the DNR.

"With a helicopter you can fly pretty low and with the snow and being such a big animal, they're pretty easy to spot," he said. "It's pretty cool."

Moose don't present much danger to humans, except by virtue of their size. The large herbivores can weigh around 1,800 pounds and stand 5 to 6.5 feet tall at the shoulder. They can run up to 35 miles an hour.

"They're a big animal and can be more aggressive in rut or a cow with a calf," Balzar said. "You don't want one chasing you or trampling, but that is extremely rare."

People should not put any kind of food out to try to entice the moose to take up residence here.

"Let it find a good habitat on its own," Balzer said. The "best moose country" in Minnesota is closer to the Boundary Waters or the Lake Superior uplands around Finland.

According to National Geographic magazine, Moose eat shrubs and pinecones in the winter, and scrape snow with their large hooves - which can act as snowshoes as well - to clear areas to browse for mosses and lichen.


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