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Newfoundland woman heartbroken after local SPCA puts down three-day-old moose

Brandi Calder is shown sitting next to a baby moose in this undated handout image from Newfoundland. Calder who bottle-fed a baby moose after it got lost in the woods without its mother is reeling after the local SPCA put the animal down.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
May 26, 2017 - 6:45 PM

GANDER, N.L. - A Newfoundland woman who bottle-fed a baby moose after it got lost in the woods without its mother says she's heartbroken after the local SPCA put the animal down.

Brandi Calder said Friday her husband was building a cabin in the woods near Glenwood, N.L., when he heard a strange crying noise and discovered the three-day-old calf on its own with no sign of its mother.

"The baby moose was crossing a brook that's normally low but this time of year is quite high and fast-moving," she said in an interview. "The moose tried to cross it but got pulled under and almost drowned."

Calder said her husband tried to track the mother moose but she was "long gone" and the young calf stayed by his side.

After waiting several hours for the mother to return, her husband decided after nightfall to bring the infant animal home rather than leave it alone overnight in the woods.

"She would have died of starvation, drowned in the brook or the coyotes would have killed her," Calder said.

The baby moose, which she described as dark chocolate brown with a lighter brown face and hind legs, still had its umbilical cord attached and had long, gangly legs.

"She looked out of proportion and she wobbled when she stood up," she said. "She also looked hungry."

She bought some goat's milk and borrowed a bottle and baby cereal from her sister, who has a human baby.

"At first she didn't take the milk," Calder said. "So I cut the nipple so it would drip and put my finger in her mouth to open it so she could get a taste of it."

Calder and her husband took turns feeding and watching over the little moose throughout the night and called the Gander and Area SPCA in the morning.

But two hours after the SPCA picked up the animal, Calder said she was put down.

"They said the Salmonier Nature Park couldn't take the calf and a veterinarian said it was dehydrated and had diarrhea," Calder said. "I was so upset, I started to cry."

SPCA manager Bonnie Harris said wild animals cannot be taken care of in a shelter.

"We followed protocol," she said. "When there is a wild animal, any involvement with a wild animal, there are certain things you have to do.

"We contacted wildlife and we contacted conservation officers," she said, adding that ultimately "it's not our call."

But Calder said the decision to euthanize an animal should only be taken after all other options have been exhausted.

"We had a back-up plan," she said. "We were going to take her to the cabin and take turns feeding her until she was strong enough to go off on her own or in case by some chance the mother came back looking for her."

"Even if we kept her as a pet, it would have been on her home turf."

Newfoundland and Labrador's Fisheries and Land Resources Department issued a warning Friday asking people not to remove young animals from the wild.

"Conservation officers frequently deal with moose calves, and occasionally the young of other species, being removed from the woods by well-meaning people," spokeswoman Connie Boland said in a statement. "While most individuals have good intentions, their desire to help is usually misplaced."

Wildlife officials often can't release a calf back into the wild because the animal's ability to survive is compromised, she said.

"An abandoned young animal has a better chance at survival if it is left in the wild," Boland said. "The cow moose may still be in the area and will return, which provides a better chance for survival than removing the calf from the forest."

Calder said the baby moose bonded with the family dog, a 12-year-old hound that sniffed and licked the little calf and snuggled with her.

"When the dog went outside with the moose, she stopped crying," she said. "Our dog has a fleshy mole on his belly and the moose tried to nurse ... it was so sweet."

Calder said it makes no sense to put a three-day-old moose down because it was dehydrated.

"When the SPCA came to the house, she had just finished a bottle of milk right there," she said. "They knew she had just starting eating again and I even gave her the leftover goat's milk."

She also argued that loose stools are likely not a sign of serious trouble in such a young calf that had a traumatic experience.

"They were quick to write her off because they didn't have anywhere to bring her," Calder said. "It was easier to put her down."

— By Brett Bundale in Halifax

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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