Although she wasn’t able to save the distressed moose, Barbara Holmstrom will never forget the time she spent with the docile and affectionate animal.
Holmstrom and a few of her friends were snowmobiling across northwestern Ontario’s Shoal Lake when they spotted a female moose down on the ice.
“We walked over to her and she tried getting up, but she kept falling down,” she told CBC News.
Holmstrom said it was obvious that the moose had been struggling for a while, especially because there were so many droppings around her.
With her ears back and fur standing up, the moose was noticeably apprehensive when they first approached it, but Holmstrom said that it didn’t take long for the animal to completely relax.
Generally, wildlife officials recommend keeping your distance from wild animals, especially large ones like moose.
Although moose are not naturally aggressive toward humans, they may be if they’re provoked or during certain times of the year. Like many mothers, cow moose are very protective, and they have been known to attack humans who get too close to their young.
But with her back legs spread across the ice in either direction, this lone moose wasn’t going anywhere, and Holmstrom knew they had to help. Initially, the group tried to lift the moose up using a tow strap, but she struggled to stay on her feet.
Although they did manage to lead the moose to shore, where they thought she would be able to get better footing, she still struggled to stand.
That’s when they decided to call the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. When two conservation officers arrived, they advised Holmstrom and her friends to give the moose some water, while they allowed the animal time to recover.
“She was drinking it right from the bottle.” Holmstrom said. “We got her some blankets and spent the whole night with her.”
Holmstrom told reporters that the moose was completely relaxed as she laid next to them, allowing them to stroke her nose and ears while she fell in and out of sleep.
“…we rubbed her legs and her whole body down and she would just lean on you. It was incredible.”
Unfortunately, when morning came, the moose wasn’t in any better shape.
She was still unable to get up on her feet, and when the conservation officers arrived they told Holmstrom and the others that they would have to put the animal down.
Now Holmstrom can’t help but wonder if the moose would have survived if they’d arrived sooner.
“I think if we had found her the day before, I think we could have saved her.”
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