Medicine River Wildlife Centre tried to reunite a moose calf with its mother using recordings that mimic the plaintive distress call of a lost moose calf.
The centre came to the rescue of a young moose calf separated from its mother in a rural community of Bearspaw on the western edge of Calgary this week.
The calf, less than a week old, was exhausted and stressed after running around in a commercial area.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife in Calgary contacted the Innisfail-area wildlife centre for help on Tuesday.
Wildlife Centre executive director Carol Kelly said she arrived in time to advise officers on the scene on how to best catch the calf. A Medicine River staff member from Cochrane worked Tuesday evening to stabilize the animal.
On Wednesday morning, an attempt was made to reunite the moose with her calf.
Medicine River brought the calf to an area where a Bearspaw resident believed she spotted the calf and its mother earlier in the week and where the adult moose had also returned alone after her calf went missing.
A moose call that imitated a distressed calf was used, but the mother didn’t appear.
They returned Thursday morning to try again, with no luck.
Kelly said the moose call, that moose can hear from over one km away, certainly worked well on humans.
“It is a plaintive call,” Kelly said about the call that had humans running to help.
The calf was brought to Medicine River Wildlife Centre on Thursday and a new moose mother will be found to adopt the calf.
“One of the things we specialize in is getting them back to their original parents no matter what species of wildlife it is. If that’s not possible, then we find foster families. It’s called reuniting or fostering. This method is catching fire right across North America.”
Kelly said a few years ago the centre gave a talk on reuniting at a conference and is now regularly asked to speak at conferences. Staff spoke at a conference in Nashville earlier this year.
“The Humane Society of the United States strongly endorses it to the point where they have sponsored some of the presentations at the conferences.”
She said moose and their calves don’t often get separated in the bush. They are more often separated due to “interruption by city.”
“If baby or mom gets scared by a car, they go in opposite directions. It could be somebody’s dog chased them. There are just so many things.”
The Bearspaw calf will be put in the ungulate enclosure on Medicine River property until another mother is located.
The calf might end up being adopted by a female moose who is known to visit the centre’s property. Last year she adopted a calf at the centre.
“Last year we saw her walking through towards the area of the ungulate enclosure so we ran over, we undid the gate, and went away. When we came back the next morning there were hoof prints all over the place around the ungulate enclosure and baby was gone.
“This year we can take it one step further. We’d put a transmitter in his ear so that when we do foster him out we’ll be able to track him.”
Medicine River Wildlife Centre runs a wildlife hospital and environmental education centre dedicated to assisting injured and orphaned wild animals return to their natural environment.