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Rescue of moose calf and death of its mother 'avoidable,' Colorado Parks and Wildlife says

Posted at 4:46 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 20:30:12-04

GILPIN COUNTY, Colo. — A mother moose and her calf were found trapped inside a well over the weekend near Rollinsville, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are warning homeowners to secure their properties and stop baiting wildlife with food or other treats.

The calf survived but the mother did not. The responding officer said Tuesday he has never seen a situation like the one he encountered over the weekend and that it all could have been avoided if the property owner was following the law.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Ian Petkash was one of the responding officers.

"The calf was able to essentially be on top of the mother so she didn’t have to tread water," he said Tuesday.

A couple of hunters renting the property for the weekend found the moose and called CPW Friday night. Officers found them the next morning. Petkash called the rescue "very bittersweet."

"We were able to save the calf but the mother had already expired," he said.

He believes either the mother fell in and the calf followed or the calf fell in first and mom went in to save her baby.

Officer Petkash says this should act as a reminder to property owners to look for spots where animals could get trapped, though the state has no law directly related to that.

What is against the law is having salt blocks with no livestock present, which Petkash said was exactly what CPW officers found.

"That salt block may have well lead to this situation where the moose then fell in the well after being attracted," Petkash said.

Having an illegal salt block carries a minimum fine of $139.50. If it's proven the property owner used it for hunting, there would be additional charges.

CPW says the investigation into the moose's death is ongoing.

The agency said the calf had already been weaned and was able to fend for itself, so it was relocated into a drainage area where CPW said there was “great moose habitat.”