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Orphaned Moose Find Homes Across Alaska

May 25, 2011|By Jackie Bartz | Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — It's calving season for Alaska's moose and every year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game receives dozens of calls about orphaned calves. This year, the department is teaming up with the Alaska Moose Federation on a calf rearing program. 

At a facility in the Matanuska Valley, Alaska Moose Federation volunteers will raise calves with the intent of working with biologists to release them within a couple months. 

"As far as the success, I've raised a number of them and returned them to the wild with radio collars on and been able to monitor them through the following year and determine they do have a very high survival rate," said Bill Collins, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 

The Alaska Moose Federation had to meet a lengthy list of criteria in order to operate the program.  One day after the facility opened, biologists brought in two calves after their mother was shot and killed when she attacked a Palmer woman. The facility is not open to the public because it's best that the calves not have too much contact with people.

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"When you release them to the wild you want them to go wild again," said Bob Henrichs, Chairman of the Alaska Moose Federation. "It's not a petting zoo and a lot of people don't understand that."

The ideal scenario is that the calves be released within a couple of months, according to Collins. But a handful of orphans that the department rescued in the past are being housed at a research facility in the Matanuska Valley. There are seven moose, ranging in ages, that biologists have tamed in an effort to make researching them a little easier.  

"We do all kind of different things hands on," said Collins. "We don't want to have them be irritated with us, so they're quite unique in that regard. It's not what we're trying to achieve with the orphan calf rearing."

Collins says one of the biggest obstacles the department faces this time of year, is families trying to make a moose a part of their own family. If you see what you believe is an orphaned moose, don't approach it and immediately call your local fish and game office, Collins said. Keeping dogs under control is also helpful.

If you would like to help the Alaska Moose Federation, it is seeking feed, money and large dog kennels (which you can take to Sportsman's Warehouse). Its website currently under construction, but is expected to be up in the coming days http://www.growmoremoose.org

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