Is it a moose or is it an elk? Well, if you’re in Sweden, it’s both!
What you might call a moose in North America is what we Europeans know as an elk. (Not to be confused with a type of deer that North Americans call ‘elk’. Are you with me?) Elk are widespread in Sweden, and even near Stockholm there are wire fences separating the woods from the motorway in order to keep the elk off the roads.
I’ve seen glimpses of adult elks as they retreat into the woods. I’ve admired elk poo. But I’ve yet to see a full-grown one face to face. They are called King of the Woods over here and with their long graceful legs, they resemble giraffes as they run off into the forests. They may be regal and … well … big – but, at heart, they are shy creatures.
Once, a couple of years ago, as we were going back home in the car, I spotted a young elk – a year-old-bull calf – standing near the cycle path, looking out over the lake serenely.
I got Sir Pe to stop the car and ran back to the elk armed with only a smile and my mobile phone camera.
It turned its head slowly and stood staring right at me and the kids. Slowly, slowly, it began moving towards us. Nearer and nearer. It looked as if it was ready to take on the world. Another passer-by recommended that we begin backing away slowly as even young bull calves can be very dangerous due to their size.
Just then, a strange cry was heard and the bull stopped. He gave us one more look and turned, unafraid and graceful, towards his mother. Together, they walked back to the forest that was their domain.
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