Local photographer Guillermo Esteves was following a group of bull moose when he captured an uncanny wildlife brush-up: One of the mammoth creatures, who had wandered in the direction of the road, stopped to observe a dog sitting in a car.
“The driver of the car parked a little too close and didn’t get a chance to move it before the moose approached, giving his dog an uncomfortably close look,” Esteves told the News&Guide in an email.
The snapshot, titled “Close encounter,” was one of five photos to win a People’s Choice Award in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, a competition hosted by London’s Natural History Museum.
Out of over 49,000 images submitted to the competition, the museum chose 25 photographs to place in the running for a People’s Choice Award — and the five photos with the most votes from the public were honored with the prize.
The rendezvous occurred on the side of the road at Antelope Flats in December 2018, Esteves said. Although he was a safe distance from the animals, Esteves initially worried that the dog would bark and trigger an aggressive response from the moose. Fortunately, the moose quickly lost interest, lumbering away shortly after.
After chronicling the moment with his telephoto lens, Esteves didn’t think to submit the photo to any competitions. He was surprised by the overwhelming response his work received, he said.
As the photo becomes more popular, the photographer has been using the spotlight to send a message about respecting wildlife.
On his Instagram, Esteves jokingly wrote, “don’t be the dog!” to his audience. He echoed Grand Teton National Park’s wildlife viewing safety tips, reminding visitors to remain at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards away from other types of wildlife, “including moose & bison.”