A herd of followers are tracking a moose on the loose in southern Minnesota, hoping the majestic animal’s journey ends safely after it was spotted Tuesday 140 miles (225 km) northwest of Minneapolis.
Fans have been tracking the young male moose for weeks and posting updates on a Facebook page that as of Tuesday had more than 18,000 followers.
Admirers call the animal “Bullwinkle” or “Rutt,” the latter in homage to a scatterbrained moose from the movie “Brother Bear.”
A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources big game expert told the Minnesota Star Tribune that moose typically only roam in northern Minnesota, making the now-famous moose’s visit to south and central Minnesota a rare treat. Todd Froberg, the agency’s big game program coordinator, said the young moose is likely looking for home territory or other moose and is expected to continue moving north.
“He’s lost, and he’s trying to get home to his family,” said Bernie Stang, a moose fan who spotted the animal in late October.
Amateur moose-tracker Brenda Johnson said traffic on the Facebook page, of which she is the administrator, picked up in September when the moose was spotted in Iowa near the border of Minnesota.
She suspects Rutt traveled from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa before coming back to Minnesota, based on news reports of moose sightings in South Dakota that match his description.
Johnson said she created the Central MN Moose on the Loose Facebook page in 2018 to track another moose whose life tragically ended when it was fatally struck by a semi while crossing a highway.
Rutt enthusiasts had been monitoring his fan page for weeks hoping for news that the colossal creature would avoid a similar fate and safely cross Interstate 94. (He did.)
Danielle Magnuson began searching for the moose last month as a distraction from stressors in her life. She spent several days a week searching before she finally found him Nov. 13 near Sauk Centre.
“It’s almost like seeing a unicorn,” Magnuson said. “They’re just really beautiful animals, and we don’t get a chance to see them around our area.”
Stang said seeing Rutt was especially touching for her 26-year-old daughter Holly Stang, who had never seen a moose before. She said Holly Stang first named the creature Rutt.
“This moose has brought so much joy to so many people and so much hope,” Bernie Stang said, “because most people in their lifetime never get to see a moose.”