Maine game wardens say the calf was ailing and had little chance of survival.
A baby moose that was rescued from deep snow by nine people in a small Aroostook County town had to be put down by game wardens because it was sick.
The moose, which weighed a couple hundred pounds and was likely born last spring, drew attention from passersby Monday morning as it sat unmoving in deep snow near a roadway. A series of photos posted on Facebook by Barbetta Ann Bowker Turner show nine people using shovels to free the calf in Crouseville, a unincorporated village in the town of Washburn.
Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said game wardens arrived just after the moose rescuers had placed the young animal on a sled. Its head was wrapped with a pink jacket.
“The moose was not kicking or thrashing around, so there were some indications the moose was probably not well,” MacDonald said.
There was at least 40 inches of snow on the ground in the area where the moose was found, MacDonald said.
Game wardens took the moose to a more secluded spot and asked the owners of a nearby house to keep an eye on the moose to see if it stayed in the area. Late Monday afternoon, the homeowners notified wardens the moose had not moved all day.
When wardens returned, the moose was showing signs indicative of lungworm, a condition biologists find in Maine moose occasionally throughout the year.
“It was pretty apparent the moose was very labored in breathing,” MacDonald said.
The wardens, in consultation with wildlife biologists, decided to put down the moose because of its condition.
MacDonald said he certainly understands the inclination to help sick or stranded animals, but he advised people to call game wardens to handle situations involving struggling wildlife.