It will be a good Christmas for Mary, the calf moose named by West Fernie residents. Mary the moose was successfully translocated on Dec. 16 by the Fernie Conservation Officer Service (COS).
“It was reported to conservation officers through the RAPP line and from personal calls that the female calf moose was living in the West Fernie area in peoples back yards,” said Conservation Officer Patrica Burley. “The cow was known to be struck and killed on Hwy 3 just west of Fernie. The calf has been living around people since then for the last 3-4 months.”
The translocation of ungulates is not a common practice for the CO’s to conduct.
“The immobilization drugs can be hard on the animal causing them more stress and a difficult recovery,” said Burley. “Not all ungulates that are immobilized and translocated recover from the drugs or survive in their new surroundings.”
The B.C. provincial wildlife vet, wildlife biologists and COS do not support the public feeding wildlife such as deer and moose in residential areas. It is the same concept as bears; the wildlife becomes habituated to people (lose their fear) and become dependent on people for food. Some people had been hand feeding the moose.
“Mary was being fed continuously by West Fernie residents,” said Burley. “Even though people may think they are helping the young calf, they are doing more damage to it by making it comfortable around humans. The calf had reportedly charged and stomped at residents which reminds people how dangerous they can be.”
Mary is a Shiras moose weighing approximately 113-136 kilograms, but will grow to weigh about 226 kgs. (500 lbs). Shiras moose in the southern eastern areas of B.C. are genetically smaller than the Western/Canada and Alaska moose found in northern B.C., the Yukon and Alaska.
For public safety reasons the CO’s removed the calf to an area north of Sparwood at Ken Musil’s ranch. Musil has accepted three other translocated moose in the past to start off on his property before moving on to live normal lives.
Mary will be corralled and will be fed willows, straw and maybe a carrot or two to regain her strength. She will likely stay on the ranch for the winter to make it through the harsh weather conditions. In the spring she will be free to graze and move on. Musil has cattle and horses on his ranch and the three previous relocated moose were not a problem with the farm animals.
The COS would like to thank the volunteer’s that helped with the relocation of Mary the Christmas moose and thank Ken Musil for his generous help with orphaned moose.