Moose Federation to transport calves after mother dies

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All day on Monday, neighbors could hear the two young moose wailing.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
A pair of orphaned moose calves rest Tuesday morning in a yard on Linwood Lane among the remains of the swing set that tangled their mother.

"It kind of sounded like a baby crying. Just kind of high pitch and slow," Priscilla Chya said.

The moose lost their mother early Monday morning when she got trapped in a swing set in a Linwood Lane yard, according to the Kenai Police Department.

Officers got word of the tangled cow on Sunday night.

"She was very alive and aggressive to the point that the officers would be in harm's way if they got too close," Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl said.

The officers attempted to untangle the mother, but they were not able to get her free. At some point during the struggle, she died, according to Sandahl.

"The officers made the right decision. They didn't shoot the moose. They tried to safely get it untangled," Sandahl said. "It's just an unfortunate situation."

Kenai Police called Alaska Department of Fish and Game/Wildlife Conservation as well as Alaska Wildlife Troopers to figure out what to do with the orphans, Sandahl said.

On Tuesday morning at about 10 a.m., the calves were still in the Kenai neighborhood, resting next to a broken swing set.

"Why hasn't Fish and Game picked them up?" neighbor Jamie Howland asked Monday at about 7:30 p.m.

"Do you leave your baby there with nothing to eat?" Chya asked rhetorically on Tuesday, hoping for a solution. "Don't you think it's mean to leave babies all alone?"

Chya said she listened to the moose's birth.

"I heard a big old thump on Sunday night. It sounded like something thumped to the ground," Chya said. "I just thought there was a moose back there. I didn't think the moose was giving birth or anything."

Jared Hutchings first saw the babies Monday morning. He said he was drinking his coffee at about 8:30 a.m. when one of the neighborhood children asked him if he saw the moose.

"Was it a big moose?" he asked.

"No, the babies," the girl responded.

So Hutchings went to the yard, and sure enough, the two baby moose were huddled together on one side of the lawn.

"I went back inside," Hutchings said. "I didn't know if the mother was just around the corner."

Around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jeff Selinger, an area biologist with Fish and Game, was awaiting instruction.

"There's been no direction handed to me from above. I'm not at liberty to handle the situation right now as the area biologist," Selinger said. "I'm waiting for direction from my supervisors."

Though it took a day and a half, a resolution would eventually come.

Fish and Game personnel picked up the calves later on Tuesday morning and they plan to transfer the animals to Palmer, according to Selinger. Gary Olson, founder of the Alaska Moose Federation, confirmed that he would be carting the calves this morning.

Selinger deferred all question about Fish and Game's response and the details about what was specifically in store for the calves to state offices. Three calls to the department's Southcentral Regional Office in Anchorage were not returned on Tuesday.

After fighting the urge to feed the helpless babies, Chya said she was pleased to see Fish and Game arrive.

"I'm glad that they finally got help," Chya said. "That's good."

Kenai Police had similar feelings.

"It was tragic at first with the loss of the mom," Sandahl said. "But in the end it was a happy ending for the calves."

Andrew Waite can be reached at

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