November 21, 2017 10:19 pm
Updated: November 23, 2017 6:43 pm

Baby moose causes controversy after it was found severely injured near Okotoks

WATCH: Residents near Okotoks stepped in to try to save a moose calf after it lost its mother and was in distress. But the act is raising questions about interacting with injured wildlife when it’s against the policies of Alberta Fish and Wildlife. Lisa MacGregor reports.

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Alberta residents near Okotoks said they stepped in to try to save a baby moose’s life after being told to let it die by provincial officials.

Last week, Carolyn Berven was driving her kids to school when she came across a mother moose frantically trying to reconnect with her calf which was stuck behind a fence.

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“Mother moose ended up going across the highway and left the baby behind because, again, the baby couldn’t cross the fence. At one point, the mother was running parallel with the traffic on Highway 2A and it’s a double-lane highway,” Berven said.

READ MORE: Renewed calls to help injured Calgary-area black bear cub

When Berven didn’t hear back from a call to Alberta Fish and Wildlife, she called police for help.

“But everybody was sort of at a loss because it’s a wild animal and there’s two lanes of highway and there wasn’t enough manpower to sit and watch, so the neighbourhood kicked into action to keep an eye out for the mom,” Berven said.

LISTEN: Carolyn Berven connects with Rob Breakenridge to tell the whole story

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) assured Berven that the mother would likely return for her calf, but there was no sign of her after several days. Berven said she thinks poachers had something to do with her disappearance after the community found moose remains in the area.

“Back behind our home there’s been a moose dumping. We can’t confirm if it’s the mother but it’s an awful big coincidence that there’s moose body parts that have been left in a ditch,” Berven said.

Over the course of the week, Berven and her neighbour provided hay and water to help the baby survive on its own. That’s against Alberta Fish and Wildlife’s policy.

“The man we talked to on the phone instructed us to let the it die, so that wasn’t happening,” Berven said. “We already had the baby at the vet clinic and she was getting some help.”

Read the Alberta wildlife management guidelines here

On Monday morning, the baby moose was still in distress so they brought it into the nearby Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency for professional medical attention.

“The biggest concern right off the bat was we checked blood sugar levels and we almost had nothing,” Dr. Nathan Bernadet said.

Later that day, the baby moose was taken to the AIWC for further help overnight. But on Tuesday morning, it died.

Dr. Bernadet said earlier intervention could have made a difference.

“Certainly they [Berven and neighbours] had contacted fish and wildlife, which was appropriate to let them know,” Bernadet said.

“On the other hand I would never force someone to sit and watch something unfold and become a disaster.”

READ MORE: Biologist wants to shelter an injured bear, but Alberta can’t ‘entertain’ the request

“[Alberta Fish and Wildlife] needs more help. We’ve called so many times and no response,” Benven said. “No one is going to leave an animal here to die without some sort of effort to save it.”

Alberta Fish and Wildlife’s policy has always been to never approach wildlife. But with with Alberta towns and cities expanding rapidly into natural wildlife habitat, residents say more situations are occurring where the public is finding it hard not to show empathy and intervene if it means saving an animals life.

In a Thursday email to Global News, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokesperson Brendan Cox said they were saddened to hear of this young moose’s death.

“Fish and Wildlife officers do try to help where they can, but unfortunately, this is not always possible,” he said. “Our officers have saved many animals from dangerous situations, like being trapped on a frozen body of water, or being stuck in fences or pits. But unfortunately, they are not always able to help in every case when they are responding to other calls for service, such as enforcing hunting, fishing and public lands laws and regulations, and responding to incidents of dangerous wildlife.”

“It is not necessarily uncommon for animal mothers to leave their young alone. They often come back. And sometimes, they may still be nearby but out of sight, in which case they could become defensive if people approach their young. For these reasons, we usually tell people to leave the animal alone.”

“One thing that anyone who works with wild animals thinks about is the stress that can be caused to the animal by human interference. Tranquilizing, capturing or even handling a wild animal causes it stress, and this can lead to capture myopathy.”

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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