A Cow Moose Had Triplets. The Internet Thinks They’re Mule Deer Fawns

Spoiler: They are not mule deer
Katie Hill Avatar
Triplet moose calves mistaken for mule deer.

A photo of a cow moose and her triplets bedded in a Utah woman’s backyard stirred some debate over whether the triplets were moose calves or fawn deer. Few things kick up an Internet dialogue quite like the opportunity to tell strangers they’re wrong. So when Park City, Utah, resident Lesly Levy sent in a photo to local news site Town Lift of a cow moose bedded next to three moose calves in her backyard, a parade of commenters charged in to correct her “misidentification.” Clearly, they argued, due to the size, coloration, and legs that weren’t long or knobby enough, the baby cervids in the photo were deer. 

Just ask the one commenter who sees “deer and moose co-mingle in my pond (and in nature) all the time,” or the guy whose brother “is an avid deer hunter and said those are deer triplets. Tail and head are dead giveaways!”

But throughout all the debate in the comments, Levy insisted that the young triplets were moose. She was rewarded for sticking to her guns. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources species coordinator Rusty Robinson confirmed in a statement published by Park City news outlet TownLift that the animals are, in fact, moose calves.

Watch: What’s Killing Moose Calves in Alaska?

“I can see how someone might confuse them for deer,” Robinson said. “But the coloration, neonatal facial structure, dark eye rings and snout, inconspicuous tail and long legs are all indicators of a moose calf.”

The tail and head are dead giveaways, indeed.

It’s true that in this particular photo the calves do display the mule deer-like brow, and the one visible tail nub could also be considered muley-esque. But the dark coloration around the throat, belly, and back, plus the fact that those calves are significantly bigger than an average deer fawn, should make the species identification pretty simple.

Other photos and footage of a cow moose with triplets roaming Park City have popped up recently. KSL 5 TV posted a video of the cow attacking a flag on the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course to their Facebook page on July 2.

In the footage, the cow charges the flag after seemingly mistaking it for a threat to her calves. If the photo from Levy’s backyard raised any question about what species the babies were, this footage (and other photos) confirms it: those long legs and short, brown bodies belong indisputably to moose calves.