Parks Canada warns public not to let moose lick cars

Published: December 1, 2020

Photo courtesy of Valerie Domaine, Parks Canada

In Jasper, Alberta moose are on the loose and they are licking cars. No, this isn’t a mistake or a joke. There is a problem with moose licking cars and Parks Canada is asking for the public’s help.

According to Steve Young, the Public Relations and Community Officer of Jasper National Park, moose have been licking cars to consume the salt that builds up on them, because, “they [moose] need salt in their diets”.

Photo courtesy of Steve Young
Photo courtesy of Steve Young

Although natural salt licks are present in Jasper National Park, Steve explained why moose gravitate to cars. “If you go to a restaurant that you like, do you go back to the same restaurant again?” Of course, the answer is yes. This is exactly what moose licking cars are doing—they know cars are an easy source of salt, so they’ll continue to return to them as long as it is provided.

This may seem harmless, but the more moose are exposed to cars, the more comfortable they get being on the road. This will lead to cars hitting moose more frequently, which can be just as deadly for the moose as the people in the car. If you ever get in a collision with a moose, Steve’s best piece of advice is, “Duck. Get your head down as quickly as possible, because that moose is coming through your windshield.”

Photo courtesy of Taylor Brule

Steve says bighorn sheep are another animal in Jasper that need salt in their diets. They have taken a similar but slightly different approach; they prefer licking salt directly off the roads. It’s not uncommon for many bighorn sheep to gather on the Trans-Canada Highway, and cause what Steve referred to as a “Jasper traffic jam.”

So, what should you do if a moose or another animal starts to approach your car?

Step #1: Stay in your car.

Step #2: Slowly start to drive away.

Following these two simple steps will help to keep people safe, and keep the wild animals wild.

Want to learn more about moose? Check out these 15 facts about the amazing animal.

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