A moose is on the loose!
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism on Friday posted quite the unusual photo for the Sunflower State — a young bull moose that had made its way into Jewell County in the north-central part of the state near the Republican River.
KDWPT staff snapped a picture and explained through a Facebook post that the big cervid had made its way to Kansas through Nebraska.
They added, "A friendly reminder to all, moose are not a legal game species in Kansas."
It is unusual for a moose to make it this far south, but not unheard of. The Oklahoman reported on a wandering bull moose in February 1989 that made its way into western Kansas and as far south as the Oklahoma Panhandle. Kansas wildlife officials at the time said the moose was suffering from a severe parasite infestation.
"It's very rare," KDWPT wildlife research biologist Matt Peek told The Topeka Capital-Journal. "This is the first since the one in the late '80s that we're aware of. I'm not aware of any others before that, either. As for why, sometimes animals get out of territory occupied by their species and they just keep moving until they get killed or get back to others of their kind."
Kansas has had its share of unusual visitors to the state over the years, Peek said.
"In Kansas, we've also had mountain lions, wolves and lynx that probably fit this description. Alternatively with moose, I've heard some speculation that moose that move a long way south out of their range like this may have brainworm. I don't know that this has been verified."
Despite the rarity of seeing a moose in Kansas, Peek said the species isn't a stranger to other parts of the Midwest.
"Moose have moved closer to Kansas in recent years," Peek said. "Nebraska now has a few moose in the northwest part of the state and I believe has even documented reproduction. I believe this moose's most likely source is Minnesota though, based on its travels through Nebraska."
The Montana Field Guide lists the species' year-round range to include Alaska, Canada, Washington state, Idaho, Utah, Mountana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota, the upper peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.