Three orphaned moose calves from Alaska settle into their permanent Washington home

    Photo courtesy of Sarah Howard, Executive Director of Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

    Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - Three orphaned moose calves have found a new home in Western Washington.

    Stephanie Bogle is an Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist and the Orphaned Animal Coordinator for the State of Alaska.

    She gave a preface on what to do when coming across an animal that appears to be struggling.

    "Most situations like these start with a call from the public about an abandoned calf. We will monitor the situation for a couple of days in the hopes that the calf will reunite with the mother. If there has been no reunion, we will respond by picking the calf up. Please keep in mind that at no point should the public ever pick up or take care of an abandoned wild animal. The best chance for its survival is to be left alone to find its mother, which does happen more than folks think, and to notify F&G of the situation."

    If someone doesn't pick up the phone or if it's after-hours, Bogle said to go to their website and fill out a wildlife encounter form.

    Bogle said they don't have details about what happened to the mothers, but know that the calves were wandering for a couple of days before they were picked up by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

    The calves are not related by blood, and all came from separate instances, but are learning to enjoy each other's company just the same.

    The following calves made their way to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Washington state last year in August.

    The male calf was picked up by staff in Anchorage on May 29, 2022.

    Another female calf was picked up by a Trooper on the Department's behalf on that same day, who unfortunately passed away June 6.

    Bogle said sometimes a calf is unhealthy, and that's actually why it will be abandoned by its mother.

    Another female was picked up from Ninilchik by staff on May 31, and the final female calf, who brought back the trio, was picked up by staff near Anchorage on June 7.

    At the time of being picked up in the spring, the calves were only a few weeks old, Bogle said at the oldest, a month.

    She said, unlike the calf who passed away, the other three were all healthy and full of energy when they came to the temporary holding facility.

    Now named Atlas, Luna, and Callisto the three orphaned calves are adjusting to their new home.

    When they first arrived, they were still reliant on milk and bottle-fed by staff daily. However, now they are stronger and fully weaned.

    The calves are nearly 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Moose are the tallest wild animals in North America, with adults growing up to 7.5 feet high and 10.5 feet long. Full-grown moose can also reach 1,200 pounds.

    Bogle said the final calf they picked up had quite the feisty personality at first.

    She explained there's a variety of factors that orphan moose.

    "So we'll get quite a few around Anchorage, Palmer, those sorts of areas. A few in Southeast, not a ton, but a few. So it just kind of depends what sort of interactions are going on, it can also be bears too. So sometimes they come out earlier, depending on snow, depending on food. It's easy for them to get separated from mom at a few weeks, or they get left behind."

    She said May through August is when they receive the most calls.

    Bogle also gave a brief description of the coordination it takes to transfer orphaned animals.

    "So our temporary holding facilities normally manage that for us. So normally it's through the Alaska Zoo. A lot of things that go into it is the health of the animal. So they have to go through a quarantine period. It also depends on the temperatures and the weather in the receiving state. So if the weather is extremely hot, and it's not safe to travel, they might hold on to them a little bit longer, which I think sounds like was probably the case in this situation. So once we kind of get them to the temporary holding facility, it's up to that facility to work with the receiving facility to figure out timeframes and what would work best for them. Sometimes they're farther out and we have to drive a few hours to find them. Sometimes we've had situations where the holding facility is in Anchorage and it's all the way out from Kenai, how do we get the orphaned animal to its holding facility? It takes a lot of coordination and a lot of work to get everyone on board. And we do it because we love happy endings, right?"

    Above and below: Have you ever seen a moose smile? (Photo courtesy of Sarah Howard, Executive Director of Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center)

    Below: What about a moose sticking out its tongue? (Photo courtesy of Sarah Howard, Executive Director of Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center)


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