JACKSON HOLE, WYO –Moose have been making a habit of licking vehicles recently—most notably off the Gros Ventre Road to Kelly and north toward Mormon Row, Blacktail Butte and the base of Shadow Mountain.
It’s not unlike bighorn sheep on the Elk Refuge that also enjoy getting their mineral supplements from Fords and Chevys. What wildlife is after during winter is the salt that builds up on the exterior of a vehicle. Much like a salt block or mineral lick is supplied to horses and cattle to supplement their diet in winter, wildlife does the same.
While it may be a great way to get that great shot, allowing wildlife to treat your Porsche like a popsicle is discouraged.
“We highly discourage the practice of allowing wildlife like moose to lick salt off vehicles,” Grand Teton NP spokesperson Denise Germann said.
The habit may not be good for wild animals and there is a chance it may end up not being good for your Subaru either. The Farmers Insurance line—“We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two”—probably covers moose drool and ram butting but do you really need to test it?
At the Elk Refuge, outreach and visitor services guru Lori Iverson stressed a few reasons why it’s a bad idea to let animals ingest anything off your vehicle.
“Though it’s salt the bighorns seek on the surface of vehicles there could also be a whole host of chemicals that could be harmful to ingest—gasoline from an overfilled tank, gas line antifreeze products like Heet, etc,” Iverson said. “The refuge’s bighorn sheep population, along with many bighorns in the Rocky Mountain West, are vulnerable to pneumonia. Licking shared surfaces may increase the risk of spreading a disease, not unlike a person with a cold offering to share their lollipop with others.”
A pattern of hanging around vehicles is also not good for wildlife. Sooner or later, maybe because of poor visibility, an animal gets struck.
WYDOT’s Bruce Daigle said the mix of salt and sand includes a low percentage of the former—about 10%—just to keep sand from freezing together in clumps. It’s nothing like the high percentage of salt used to melt ice back east but it’s enough to make your 4Runner an appetizing treat for lip-smacking moose.