Since the previous post revealed a pretty severe scene of a moose cow and calf. I thought that it was time to post a happier story, which I encountered when going through my archives today. I posted this a long time ago on an old blog, but am revising it here with larger photos. It’s a story with a happier ending for the moose calf and a successful attempt of a cow moose tending to her calf in a potentially dangerous situation.
Phelan creek is located in Isabel Pass in the Alaska Range mountains. At an altitude of more than 3000 feet, the snow pack melts slowly there, and in mid June, dense patches still remain. A cow moose and spring calf (perhaps 1 – 2 weeks old) were navigating the braided stream. Current from the stream and ledges from snow pack make this difficult for a tiny moose calf. At one point, the calf was nearly swept away by the current, so it huddled up in an eddy near the side of the stream.
The cow moose repeatedly crossed the stream to the other side attempting to find a safe route for her calf, but returned quickly seeming unsatisfied. The cow then stepped up from the stream bed onto the snow pack and considered this as an optional route to the swift stream current. She did this a few times, returning each time to her calf. I wondered how that little calf would get up on the snow pack since I could barely see its head when standing next to it. At some point, the mother gave the command and the little moose calf rested its front feet on the edge, the cow stepped down into the water and slowly and carefully nudged the calf up onto the snow pack. Off they trotted.
Quite amazing to watch this snippet of natural life. With any time spent watching moose with calves in the spring one thing is evident–they are always on the run, since bears and wolves are eager to prey upon the little ones. Sometimes, moose calf mortality can exceed 70% by predators. Cow moose usually have twins, and whether she lost one already, or gave birth to one only I’m not sure.