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Moose on the loose on Lake Bemidji? Someone plays elaborate April Fool's joke

Bemidji Pioneer Photographer Monte Draper got this shot of a fake moose on Lake Bemidji Friday morning.1 / 3
This is the sign that was taped to the back of the adult moose on Lake Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Tom Siemers2 / 3
These moose cutouts fooled a lot of people in Bemidji on Friday morning. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper3 / 3

Bemidji motorists were surprised to see an adult moose and a calf on the south end of Lake Bemidji this morning. But were they real, or did someone play an April Fool's joke?

"A customer brought it to our attention about 7 this morning," said Emily Nordstrom, an employee at Dunn Bros Coffee.

She said the pair had not moved after about an hour, and that's when a closer look revealed that the joke was on.

There were other hints, of course. Calves are usually born in May or June, and the animals were farther apart than usual. But from a distance, it certainly got people's attention.

The "animals" were spotted about a mile off the south shore, visible to motorists on their way to work.

"We were starting to doubt ourselves," Nordstrom sdaid, "because it is April Fool's Day. Some of our customers were staring out the windows, and some of them walked across the street to take pictures. We even told some people at the drive-through that they might want to drive around and get a look."

Monte Draper, the Bemidji Pioneer's veteran photographer who prides himself on nature shots, was pretty excited when he first spotted the activity on his way to work.

"I've never even seen a live moose," Draper said. "But as I was driving past Paul and Babe, I saw someone with a tripod and camera, then a second person with a tripod and camera. Then as I drove past the access I saw the moose on the lake and I started planning how I was going to get the shot."

Draper said he drove to the Hampton Inn parking lot and walked out onto the lake. The moose were about a half mile onto the lake.

"I decided to come in front of the calf so Mom would come out to protect it and they wouldn't run away from me," Draper said. "Then when I got onto the lake about 100 yards I saw there were two legs instead of four (on the adult), so I said, 'Darn.'"

Sometime around 9:45 a.m., the moose were no longer visible from shore. It appeared the cutouts were taken down.