Think people don’t appreciate wildlife these days? A 40-second video by Newfoundlander Scott Lemoine may prove you wrong.
The video, which shows a moose crossing a road near Black Duck, Newfoundland, has been viewed nearly 8 million times and shared almost 10,000. Of course, this isn’t just any moose — it’s a rare piebald moose. This genetic anomaly — piebaldism — leads to the moose’s unusual speckled-white colouring.
The moose is quite possibly the same one that was spotted and filmed in the same area last year. It appears to have similar placement of its markings and the same stubby antlers. Piebald animals can suffer from health problems due their genetic predisposition toward certain disorders, and they are also more visible to predators, so we’re happy to see this moose still going strong.
Scientists are careful to distinguish, however, that while piebaldism is rare and does give moose a mostly white appearance, it’s not the same thing as albinism.
“There are lots of animals that are white out there,” Wayne Barney, a species management coordinator with the Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife division, told the CBC in 2015. “The weasel will go from brown in the summertime to white in the wintertime; ptarmigan will often do it. These are not the same genetic drivers that are driving albinism.”
Nevertheless, a piebald moose is rarer than a white weasel in the wintertime, and clearly plenty of people are excited about the sighting. The moose will also be protected from hunting due to its colour, even if it’s not an albino.
“[In] Moose Management Area 43, which we refer locally as the Port au Port Peninsula, we do have legislation that prohibits the taking of a moose that is predominantly white in colour,” Barney said. “That covers the piebald or any albino animal as well.”