OLIVIA, Minn. - Not your usual trip home for lunch: That's how Susie Lang described her drive on Friday.
A bull moose bolted out in front her as she headed down an avenue on the west edge of Olivia, the city's familiar water tower and the U.S. Highway 212 commercial strip all within her eyesight.
A friend with the Renville County Sheriff's Office had texted her shortly before Lang had left for lunch. She informed Lang that that there were reports of a moose in her neighborhood just outside of town. "Seriously," she said, "that's so cool.''
Just that morning, she had been looking at a newspaper report of a motorist who had struck what was believed to be a wild elk near Hector on the east end of the county one week earlier.
Lang left for lunch about 11:30 a.m., and drove slow in hopes of spotting the moose. "Sure enough, it ran right out in front of me,'' she said.
She captured a few photos and video with her phone as the bull moose ran through a soybean field.
"He was beautiful,'' she said of the bull, adding that she hopes he finds a safe place to go.
The last she heard was that the moose was headed west towards Danube.
Moose sightings this far south of their natural range in northeastern and northwestern Minnesota are not uncommon, according to Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Occasionally moose, and more often elk, will wander from their normal range, he said.
In some cases, the wanderlust is just part of the natural dispersal by younger members of a herd. In others, the travel is aberrant and caused by a brainworm. Brainworm was the cause of death for a 1½-year-old moose spotted near Sleepy Eye in 2014.
Cornicelli said it's impossible to know what brought this moose to Renville County without being able to test for disease. He just hopes no one strikes it on the road. A moose can weigh 1,000 pounds, and they stand six feet tall with a length of nine to 10 feet.
Lang is the economic development director for Renville County, and the spouse of
District 17 Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia. Lang is an outdoorsman and serves on the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which distributes millions of dollars in funds for habitat and water quality projects.