There are a lot of strange things on the internet. When it comes to wildlife, people just can’t seem to get enough of weird critters doing weird things. One of the most interesting—or aggravating—aspects of being a public information officer for your local fish and game office has to be rumor control.
Where did this fat bear come from?
Is this elk balancing a doghouse on his antlers going to be okay?
Are squirrels supposed to naturally come with lasers?
Obviously some internet rumors are clear fakes, but occasionally some will come along that will make you question what you think is possible. In this new series on animal-related urban legends, we’ll explore the most popular wildlife memes and rumors floating around on the internet, starting with the humble moose.
1. The moose in the power cables
Believe it or not, this photo is completely unedited. But how did that poor moose get trapped in the power lines?
The answer is actually quite simple. According to Snopes, a website dedicated to investigating urban legends and unexplained phenomena, the moose was actually caught up in the lines before the cables were raised. The incident occurred during the rut, so it was likely that bull decided to challenge the swinging cables to duel, only to find itself hopelessly entangled. Construction workers were not notified of the struggling moose and raised the lines as planned, dragging the heavy animal up into the air.
Unfortunately, the moose was ultimately too injured after being rescued and had to be put down.
2. Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose
Perhaps the oldest and most iconic image on this list, this photo has been floating around the internet for some time. In fact, it’s quite old. The image was originally created as a three-paneled cartoon for the New York Tribune during the 1912 presidential election. At the time, Theodore Roosevelt was running against Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson and Republican incumbent William Taft. To illustrate the election for the masses, the artist represented each candidate with their party mascot: a donkey for the Democrats, an elephant for the Republicans, and a moose for the Progressive “bull moose” party.
At the time, everyone knew that as daring as Teddy Roosevelt was, not even he could mount a wild moose. However, over the years that story stretched and morphed into a persistent rumor, and then finally, a legend. You can read more on this story here.
3. The moose in the drive through
This brawny animal did drop by a McDonald’s drive through several years ago, but it was not in Maine as many people think it was. This photo was actually taken by Steve Kaufman in the city of Homer, Alaska. According to Snopes, the picture first showed up in a 2004 book aptly titled Moose Views, and was then disseminated throughout the internet from there.
4. The logger’s moose
Moose are massive—and massively powerful—animals, so it makes sense that at some point, some entrepreneurial outdoorsman would have tried to tame the creatures for more domestic work. This photo appears to show someone attempting just that, what with all the gear strapped to the beast.
In this case it was all just photo editing. Those of you with sharp eyes or experience in photo manipulation will have quickly noticed that the two log piles on either side of the moose and just reversed versions of the same image. Similarly, there’s plenty of other clues that mark the photo as a fake.
That’s not to say that the idea of domesticated moose hasn’t been explored before. There have been attempts to use the animals as beasts of burden, for milk production, and even as elite cavalry.
5. The statue-loving moose
Moose have a reputation for getting “frisky” with ungulate-shaped statues. Leaving out a deer, elk, or caribou in your town square is often taken as a romantic invitation to bull moose, but this one is a bit different. It’s a bison, and a male bison at that. Moose may not have the best eyesight, but is this really one mix up it can explain to its buddies back in the woods?
This incident apparently occurred near Big Sky Ranch in Montana, and if firsthand reports are to be believed, the amorous moose lingered for eight hours to enjoy its tryst with the bison.
Featured image from Imgur