An injured moose and her calf continue to thrive on the good fortunes provided by neighbouring humans.
More than a month has passed since acreage owners Mike Haustein and Christine Markwart started setting out feed and water to a moose that limped into their yard with her 2009 bull calf tagging along.
Worried that the mother moose’s bum leg would prevent her from foraging and thus put her calf in jeopardy, the couple have been driving regularly into Red Deer to pick up discarded produce from three city grocers: Gaetz South Sobeys, Port O’ Call Safeway and Costco.
Haustein now reports that he has cut back on fruits and vegetables with a high sugar content, but continues to offer three to four servings a day of berries and vegetables that are fairly similar to the saskatoons, crab apples and other foods the moose would find on their own.
A neighbouring cattle producer has confirmed that the moose has a broken bone in her front right ankle, he said. After consulting with a veterinarian who works for the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, Haustein has learned that it could take a few more weeks for the bone to fuse, after which the moose will probably be OK.
He is keeping an eye on her condition, hoping to start weaning her off the groceries in mid-January.
Alongside their grocery-store diet, the moose and her calf are browsing on mountain ash and saskatoon trees in the yard on Haustein and Markwart’s acreage, located in the Shady Nook area, about 20 minutes northwest of Penhold.
When their stomachs are full, the moose take shelter in a four-acre plot of wild bushes nearby.
“They’re almost invisible when they’re laying down,” said Haustein.
He had worried that neighbours riding quads and snowmobiles would bother the animals, but it has turned out that they simply hide in the bush and don’t seem to be too perturbed by the noise and action.
A big bull that had been pestering the cow also seems to have lost interest and has not appeared recently, said Haustein.