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Orphaned Moose Calves Released Into Wild

By: The Outdoor Wire

Volunteer helping with initial rescue.

Volunteer helping with initial rescue.

MUD LAKE - On October 23, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) Biologists released two orphaned moose calves onto the Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The calves were born in Teton Valley in late May but their mother was struck and killed by a vehicle in July. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, in this case it took the help of many community members in the Teton Valley to care and rear these animals, while department staff developed a release strategy. Moose calves are very difficult to care for due to their dietary requirements and the best intentioned human efforts often fail.

Like all young mammals they need their mothers' milk, but moose also require fresh green forage from woody species such as willows or aspen (called browse) to ensure healthy development.

The moose calves were cared for by Brent Knight and his son Alex; and by Susan Eirich and the Staff and volunteers of the Earthfire Institute. The calves were originally kept at the Knight's Farm in Tetonia, where they had access to a ready supply of goat's milk. In August, Department Biologist moved the calves to a secure enclosure at the Wild Bunch Ranch/Earthfire Institute. Volunteers continued to feed them goat's milk provided daily by the Knights, mixed with a special moose formula and fresh willow, dogwood and aspen browse. These natural foods were collected fresh daily by volunteers from the community. Dr. Don Betts and the staff of the Driggs Veterinary Clinic treated the two moose for minor infections, and generally monitored the health of the calves.

Twins prior to being released.

Twins prior to being released.

According to IDFG Wildlife Biologist Rob Cavallaro, "The Idaho Department of Fish and Game best serves our pubic when we focus on management of wildlife populations and habitat. However, in the rare instance when we engage in management of orphaned wildlife, it is valuable to have the support of the public. We thank the Knight family, the staff of the Earthfire Institute and the Driggs Veterinary Clinic for their commitment to the care and release of the twin calves back to the wild."

According to biologist Curtis Hendricks, manager of Mud Lake WMA, "Because the calves were treated as wild animals and not pets, they did not become overly familiarized to humans and have made themselves scarce to people now that they have been released on the WMA."

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