A wandering moose that has spent parts of the last three months in Iowa was spotted Thursday morning in southeast Cedar Rapids.
Doug Klinger said he saw the moose distinctly and at close range as he drove to work along Mount Vernon Road SE about 7:45 a.m.
“He was trotting parallel to the road, not far into a picked cornfield. I did kind of a double take. ‘Yeah, that’s a moose,’ I told myself,” Klinger said.
The moose was directly across from the Lighthouse Inn, 6905 Mount Vernon Rd. SE, between Indian and Squaw creeks, he said.
Klinger said he reached for his cell phone to photograph the unusual animal but was thwarted by a dead battery.
Later in the morning, Ben Dombroski shot video of the moose from a deck at his workplace, Hybrid Transit Systems, 818 Dows Rd. SE.
“Brenton Rice, a co-worker said, ‘Hey Ben, there’s a moose,’ and I said, ‘yeah, right,’ ” Dombroski recalled.
“I thought it was a horse until it turned and I could make out the contour of its body and its antlers,” he said.
Dombroski said the moose was standing in the same field before dark Thursday afternoon, and cars were pulling over on Mount Vernon Road to observe it.
The moose was first reported in Iowa in late October near Stacyville just south of the Minnesota border in Mitchell County, according to Vince Evelsizer, the Department of Natural Resources’ furbearer biologist. Other sightings have been confirmed near the towns of Protivin, Fairbank, Jesup, Independence and Winthrop, he said.
Several clear photos of the moose were taken near Fairbank on Nov. 13, according to DNR wildlife biologist Jason Auel.
Auel, who observed the moose from 100 yards, said he looked healthy, well fed and not overly afraid of people.
After repeated observations near Winthrop on Nov. 16, the moose more or less dropped out of sight until its appearance Thursday in Cedar Rapids, Evelsizer said.
The moose, a 1 ˝-year-old bull, likely strayed down from northern Minnesota in an attempt to establish its own territory, he said.
A moose strays into Iowa about once every five to 10 years, he said.
Evelsizer emphasized that moose are protected by Iowa law and cautioned hunters going afield Saturday for the state’s first shotgun deer season to be aware that a moose may be in the area.
“The best thing you can do is leave it alone – view it from a distance,” he said.
Evelsizer expressed hope that the moose will get its bearings and return to its native area.
“But the farther south he goes, the less likely that he will get back home,” he said.Evelsizer said moose straying into Iowa are often infected by brain worms that can affect their sense of direction and eventually kill them.