Two moose calves arrived recently at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.
Preserve veterinarian Maria Hallock said today both are being given antibiotics for pneumonia, but seem to be doing better.
It’s likely the stress the calves were under as a result of losing their mothers made them more susceptible to contracting the lung infection – along with the cool, wet weather conditions, she told the Star.
One of the calves, a male, arrived May 29 from the Faro area. The other arrived last Monday from the Watson Lake region.
Conservation officers in Faro noticed the calf without its mother. After watching it for 48 hours, they determined it had been abandoned, or that something had happened to the cow, she explained.
After keeping an eye on it after 48 hours with no sign of the cow, the vet said, the officers determined it was in the calf’s best interest to capture it and take it to the preserve.
The Watson Lake calf, a female, was left alone after its mother was killed in a collision with a motor vehicle, she explained.
“The calves bonded instantly when they saw each other,” Hallock said. “And now they are inseparable.”
She said they will live out their years at the preserve, and will eventually be released into the 200-acre fenced enclosure to join three other moose and several elk.
There’s a concern that while at the preserve, they might pick up a pathogen. Consequently, staff do not want to release the animals back into the wild just in case, Hallock explained.
She said they’re being bottle-fed, and the antibiotics are mixed in with their milk.
They have had moose at the preserve who were bottle-fed there, and who lived out their lives there, she pointed out.
She said two of the three moose there now were bottle-raised.
It’s too early to say whether the calves will survive – staff will have a much better idea in six weeks or so, she said.
Hallock said it’s kind of up and down right now.
Staff are working on establishing a relationship of trust with the youngsters so they feel safe, she said.
Hallock said the new arrivals are still afraid, and understandably so.
“We are working on that right now and trying to get more nutrients into them with the bottle,” she said.
In a few weeks, Hallock expects, they’ll be moved from the rehabilitation building into a small habitat enclosure that is still isolated from the public.