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Two rare white ‘spirit moose’ spotted together in Northern Ontario

WATCH: Video captured in 2018 near Foleyet, Ont. shows a white moose and her calf grazing at a roadside.

Two snow-white moose have been spotted crossing the highway in Northern Ontario, approximately one year after video of the same two animals captured international attention in 2018.

Jackie Burns Loyer photographed the elusive creatures from her car at the side of Highway 101 earlier this month. She says she spotted the pair — an adult female and a juvenile— while driving from Timmins to Chapleau, Ont., at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 17.

“They’re so beautiful,” Burns Loyer told Global News on Monday.

“They call them the spirit moose. They’re supposed to give you good luck.”

These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019.
These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019. Jackie Burns Loyer

She says the animals were standing at the side of the road for a few moments. They vanished into the bush when they heard a large truck approaching.

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Her photos show the animals are nearly all white, although the elder moose has a dark circle on its left haunch.

These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019.
These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019. Jackie Burns Loyer / Supplied

Witness Nicole Leblanc recorded footage of what appeared to be the same two moose last October on Highway 101. The elder moose had the same dark circle on its left haunch.

It’s unclear exactly how many white moose live in the area, but locals occasionally spot the shy creatures in the woods or near the highway. Sightings date back to more than 40 years ago.

“They’re always in the same area,” Burns Loyer said.

Burns Loyer says it’s been 10 years since she last saw a white moose. However, they tend to appear more often in October when moose are more active, she said.

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White moose are not albino, as they do not have red eyes. They also occasionally have some colouring on their bodies. Their unique colour is due to a recessive trait called the Armstrong White Gene Strain, according to tourism info provided by the Ontario government.

That would explain why there were two white moose, as the juvenile animal might have inherited the gene from its parent.

These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019.
These two moose were spotted at the side of the road between Timmnis and Chapleau, Ont., on Oct. 17, 2019. Jackie Burns Loyer

It is illegal to hunt a moose that’s more than 50 per cent white, according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The ban applies to the area surrounding the communities of Timmins, Chapleau and Foleyet.

They’re said to bring good luck in Indigenous cultures.

Burns Loyer says she hopes some of that luck will rub off on her.

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“It was just amazing,” she said. “It’s so rare to see.”