A young moose who has been lounging around a Red Deer neighbourhood for the last month is now calling the Rocky Mountain House area home.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife staff picked up the yearling bull moose from the front yard of a home on Denison Crescent in Deer Park on Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s been around for four weeks in the Deer Park area,” said Chris Kelly, an Alberta District Fish and Wildlife officer. “We had been waiting for a warm day (to relocate him) to give him the best chance for survival.”
Kelly said the moose was not injured but had patches on his skin that indicated he was infected with parasites. They received reports that the moose was loose in the neighbourhood and they had hoped he would have left the city by now.
Kelly said moose generally have about a 50 per cent chance of survival after they are relocated because of the stress of the move and the drugs involved.
“We try to avoid it as much as we can but right now this is his best chance because he has ticks,” said Kelly. “He’ll get very aggressive and mean so we can’t leave him here any longer. As he gets more situated and aggressive, somebody is going to get hurt.”
Deer Park residents had caught glimpses of the moose and noticed his tracks and his feces for weeks.
Lindsay Welch called Alberta Fish and Wildlife early Tuesday morning after a neighbourhood boy rang her doorbell to tell her there was a moose laying down near her car.
“He was set on staying where he was,” laughed Welch. “He wasn’t moving. He was laying down and then he would stand up eat a little bit. Then he would lay down some more.”
Welch said she hopes the moose does well in his new home.
This was the first moose that Alberta Fish and Wildlife has relocated this winter.
And residents may see more deer and moose in their neighbourhoods this winter than in a typical year.
Kelly said the animals are coming into the towns and cities because it’s easier for them to move around on the paths and there’s more food available.
Kelly cautioned residents to avoid moose, give them room and keep their dogs away. The Medicine River Wildlife Centre has fielded 100 calls from Swan Hills to Pincher Creek about injured animals since November. Typically, the centre receives about 12 calls the entire winter.
Executive director Carol Kelly (not related to wildlife officer Chris Kelly) said the deep, hard-crusted snow in the fields and in the ditches is the culprit.
“People are finding injured deer and moose in their yards,” said Kelly. “I believe the deer cannot get into the ditch when they see a car coming and they are on the road. The banks are so tall that they cannot get out.”
She said they are down the road and they get clipped by the vehicles and end up in the people’s yards injured. Kelly said they cannot get out to where they normally would so they are coming into uncharted territories like people’s yards.
“I think it is harder for them to find food so they are coming into people’s yards, into bird feeders, anything that is a food source,” said Kelly. “Remember that the deer and the moose do not have to match the ground. They eat branches on the trees. Really it’s been a tougher winter so they are coming in more.”