A days-old moose taken in by a local family last week became the latest addition to Steve Kroschel’s wildlife park.
Kelsey Taylor said the foundling showed up in her Small Tracts Road backyard at about 9 a.m., May 23, bleating and quivering. “She was really shaking. She could hardly stand up.”
By mid-afternoon, the Taylors had called the local Fish and Game office and been advised to leave the animal and let nature take its course.
“There was no way we could do that,” Taylor said. “We have two little boys. We can’t let a baby moose die in our backyard.” Taylor said her husband Cody went looking in the woods for the newborn’s mother, but found no sign or fresh droppings.
By the end of the day, the Taylors had secured a feeding bottle from Kroschel and lamb formula – as advised by an Internet search – from Juneau, and fed the moose, which took a few ounces every few hours. “We waited until it got dark. That’s when we decided to intervene,” Taylor said.
They put the moose in the woodshed at night, with a door open in the event its mother returned.
They brought the animal into their home Thursday and made a bed for it in the corner of their living room during the day. They returned it to the woodshed at evening, in part because of its continued bleating, Taylor said. The moose appeared to gain weight under her family’s care and by Friday was running around, she said. “Its bones aren’t punching out as much (now),” Taylor said.
By Friday, Fish and Game officials had arranged for Kroschel to get the foundling. The juvenile female will join two mature moose at the park.
Ryan Scott, area wildlife biologist for Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that after the moose was three days in captivity, the state had an obligation to try to find a home for it.
Kroschel’s adoption of the animal was a “successful outcome,” but stressed that juvenile wild animals, including moose, should be left alone.
“Most of the times, people think an animal is orphaned and it’s not. I can’t say unequivocally that this one was or wasn’t,” Scott said.
Cow moose that give birth to twins can sometimes forget about or lose track of one, he said. “At times, that can certainly happen, but nature has a way of working things out. There may be something wrong with the calf that the mom knows and we don’t. Sometimes it’s survival of the fittest.”
Scott said he could empathize with residents who find baby animals they believe are suffering or in peril. “As hard as it seems, usually the best thing is to let nature take its course.”
Taylor said her family was awed by the experience of befriending the newborn. “It was very unreal.”