A little baby female moose was found abandoned just outside of Lampman about a year and a half ago. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, she received a second chance and not that long ago was happily released back to the wildlife.
The cute moose calf came to the farmer’s yard and was meundering about for a while on her own when the farmer decided to call for help.
“She’d been hanging around that farm for a few days. They haven’t seen a parent, a mother; I think they had no idea what was wrong with her. So they called our emergency hotline. And that’s how it all started,” recalled Rhiain Clarke, who is one of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WRSOS) board directors and who responded to that call.
The WRSOS hotline volunteer forwarded the message to Clarke, who along with her husband are the only wildlife rescuers in the Estevan area, serving a big southeast section of Saskatchewan from Radville and McTaggart to Oxbow and everything in between.
“I went out to the farm and the little moose calf was hanging out in their offices on their property. So we just picked her up. She had no injuries. She was very, very healthy,” said Clarke.
The few-months-old calf was named Chocolate.
The Clarkes went back to Estevan with Chocolate to arrange for further steps. There is only one rehabilitation centre in the province that takes moose and it’s located in Moose Jaw. But volunteers couldn’t just take the baby moose over there.
“We have to get special permission from a conservation officer to transport them further than 200 kilometres,” explained Clarke.
One of their friends loaned her a corral to keep Chocolate until it gets transported to Moose Jaw. Then WRSOS obtained all needed permits from conservation officers in Estevan and in Moose Jaw, and the Clarkes were finally able to start moving the baby moose.
They transported Chocolate to Weyburn, where another WRSOS volunteer met her and took her all the way to Wild and Cared Free Wildlife Rehabilitation organization in Moose Jaw.
For the next 12 months, Chocolate was staying at the wildlife centre, where she was raised in conditions close to a natural habitat at the rehabilitation organization, run by Dr. Melanie Blager, who is the veterinarian in Moose Jaw. Clarke explained that when animals arrive there the doctor checks them to ensure they receive all needed healthcare.
Blager also has large corrals, in which animals can live almost like in the wild. The orphan babies get fed until they are ready to feed for themselves. And while wild animals there live side by side with people, they don’t become pets.
“(Chocolate) was very skittish. Dr. Blager is very good at making sure they are not habituated to people... They get them scared of people, and she has her corrals away from her property and she is way away from people other than them coming in to put branches in for food and things like that,” explained Clarke. “So they are trying to keep a distance at all times where possible.”
And after a year, when Chocolate was big enough and ready to go, she was sedated, volunteers put her on the trailer and transported back closer to her original home.
“We try to return them to where they came from, but it’s not always possible. In this case, we just relocated her to the place that was south of Midale,” said Clarke. “It was probably a better area for her. It was actually a wildlife refuge area.”
Chocolate was released somewhere it would be safe for her away from humans and now can just go on living. She also has a yellow ear tag, indicating that she was sedated and has drugs in her, so she is no good for hunters.
WRSOS volunteers work across the province to ensure that everything possible is done to help wild animals. There are no species in Saskatchewan they would say no to.
When coming across wildlife that needs help, people can call the hotline at 306-242-7177, leave a message and one of the volunteers will get back to them as soon as possible.
The organization is volunteer-run from the board of directors to rescue and hotline responders.
“It’s a 100 per cent volunteer-run. We get no funding from the government. We completely rely on donations from the public,” said Clarke.
If somebody wants to support WRSOS they can go to their website wrsos.org or their Facebook page to find ways to help.