One of two orphaned moose calves that were rescued from near Prince George in May and have been rehabilitated at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers is shown in a handout photo. (Handout/Northern Lights Wildlife Society via The Canadian Press)

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

After months of bottle-feedings and curfews, a pair of moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are thriving and giving hope for other orphaned wildlife in the region.

Roy Rea, an instructor at the University of Northern British Columbia, says the male and female calves were only days old when they were discovered near Prince George in late May. Their mother had been killed by a car, leaving the newborns virtually helpless.

Rea said he spent 90 minutes wandering around a swamp doing his best cow moose call to try and coax the calves out of hiding.

When they were found, the animals were severely dehydrated.

“They were both almost dead,” said Rea, who studies moose. “They didn’t even move when we walked up to them.”

The animals were rushed to a veterinarian in Prince George who gave them fluids. Once they were stable, Rea took them on a four-hour drive to the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers.

The siblings — named Mackenzie and Bijoux — are about the size of small horses now at seven months old, said Angelika Langen, co-founder and manager of the shelter.

They also have company. Northern Lights has been home to six orphaned moose calves this year, which Langen described as a “relatively high” number. She attributes the uptick to volunteers getting to animals in need quickly and bringing them in.

Mackenzie and Bijoux have helped as well, Rea said. Their rescue was reported by local media and made people more aware of potentially orphaned moose.

Saving the young animals is important, he added, particularly because the region’s moose population has dipped dramatically over the past 15 years. The reason behind the dwindling numbers is unclear, Rea said.

“They’re like a little gold nugget because we just don’t have a lot of them anymore.”

With the orphaned calves, staff and volunteers have tried to play the role of a mother moose “without becoming ridiculous,” Langen said.

They were fed a milk formula made especially for moose when they arrived at the shelter, and have since been weaned to a diet including more solid foods, such as forest foliage, grain pellets, fruit and vegetables.

The animals have also been slowly reintroduced into the wild.

In August, they got what Langen called “day passes” where they would be released for a few hours at a time into the wilderness around the shelter. As the calves grew older and stronger, the length of time they spend outside has increased.

Now they are only given one bottle at night and kept in their enclosures as they sleep to keep them safe from predators, Langen explained.

“In the wild, they would have the mother still looking out for them, so basically we’re mimicking that and giving them that same kind of protection,” she said.

Mackenzie, Bijoux and the others can leave the shelter for good whenever they’re ready. Langen said she expects them to wander off in February or March when buds come out on the trees and entice the animals deeper into the forest.

“Usually, when the snow starts melting a little bit, they get itchy and start moving.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Vehicles waiting for the highway to reopen. (Shashank Bangera photo/Lakes District News)
Vehicle incident claims life on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake

The accident resulted in highway closure

The victim of a homicide in Houston is Pietro Adamo. (Photo courtesy the RCMP)
Man dies from injuries following assault

Investigators looking for information on this homicide

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read