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Spirit Moose caught on camera by Central Alberta photographers

‘Jaw-dropping’ sight: Theresa and Darlene Tanner came across a rare albino moose
Theresa and Darlene Tanner came across a rare albino moose, or spirit moose, in central Alberta on Monday evening. (Contributed by TeamTanner).

Central Alberta photographers Theresa and Darlene Tanner went on a wildlife-seeking drive this week and hit the mother lode.

Standing starkly white against the treed background was an albino moose, also known as spirit moose, calmly chomping on willow branches beside a rural highway.

Theresa and Darlene could hardly believe what they were seeing just before dusk on Monday evening.

“We were speechless. Seeing her white silhouette against the trees made us do a double-take. Our jaws dropped,” recalled Theresa.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Rare white ‘spirit moose’ spotted in Cariboo

It was an especially meaningful surprise for Darlene, who is of First Nations background.

“Darlene is Cree, and in the Cree culture, it’s very spiritual to see an albino moose,” said Theresa. “It’s considered a good omen, a sign of good fortune to come.”

Theresa and Darlene Tanner came across a rare albino moose, or spirit moose, in central Alberta on Monday evening. (Contributed by TeamTanner)

Albino moose are extremely rare, estimated to be one in 20,000 of the large ungulates.

Besides their striking white coats, they also often have light blue or pinkish eyes due to a lack of pigmentation because of a gene mutation.

The Tanners pulled to the shoulder of the rural highway and turned off their car. They reached for their 600-mm camera and cell phones and got some spellbinding shots and video footage of the albino moose as she finished munching her dinner.

READ MORE: Moose feasts on lobby plants in Alaska hospital building

Theresa thought the herbivore seemed young because of her smaller size, but “moose do shed their winter coats this time of year.”

By making little noise and keeping their distance, the Tanners were able to observe the white moose for about half an hour before she crossed the road and ambled away with a brown moose of similar size.

The couple do not want to reveal the exact location of this encounter to protect the rare animal. Theresa and Darlene were saddened to learn that albino moose are not protected from hunters in Alberta as they are in parts of Ontario.

“We want to talk to Fish and Wildlife to see if there is a way we can change that law,” said Theresa, who believes their rarity and spiritual meaning for First Nations people should be enough reasons.

The Tanners are usually storm chasers who are also known for taking spectacular shots of the Northern Lights. Because of drought and cloudy skies, neither of these two natural phenomena has been widely available in this area, so Theresa said coming across the albino moose was wonderful compensation.

Since it’s a harbinger of good fortune, “we bought lottery tickets,” she admitted with a chuckle.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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