Newborn Moose

Haines, AK
Alaskan Newborn Moose searches for a hiding spot.

Alaskan Newborn Moose Meets World

This moose, under an hour old, was delivered on a silt bar in the middle of the Chilkat River. Byrne, my fellow tour guide, and I had just come to wait for our rafting guests to land. As we made our way to the pullout, momma moose was racing across to the far side of the river and disappeared. That’s when we saw the babe.

Left alone and trembling, this Alaskan newborn moose was hunched on the silt bar with bent back legs, unsure of how they worked. Water rushed around him on all sides. He chirped for his mother over the water’s din but she didn’t come. Only a hungry bald eagle answered the call.

As the babe first stretched a back leg and then a front leg, I watched in awe of his first steps. Nobody taught him what to do. He just did it.  Instinct.

He came to the water’s edge and paused, sniffing toward the shore opposite of where his mother ran. His next steps felt like a mistake. He walked with determination into the water as we thought to ourselves, “Wong way! Go back!”

In an instant, the baby was swept a quarter of a mile downstream by a deep, swift and frigid glacial current. We ran, helplessly, to watch through the trees. My heart sank along with this poor baby, his nostrils flaring just above the surface. I stopped the camera and looked away.

Alaskan Newborn Moose: First Hour of Life
Alaskan Bald Eagle in a Sitka Spruce Tree
Alaskan Newborn Moose swims for his life.

Will nature reclaim what she just created?

Miraculously, the Alaskan newborn moose caught traction at another silt bar. Without getting tangled in the trees, he fought the current with every step toward shore and climbed the banks just beyond our view. 

 

We ran along the roadside, slowing where we thought he was, and found him spent and wet in the low, narrow shoulder between the highway and the river. He stood stock still, anticipating our next move. We feared startling him into traffic or back into the water. Noting his location and lack of injuries, we backed off and let him rest.

Alaskan horse tail flora.
Alaskan dandelions

Food for Thought

The “mooseling” laid in a bed of fresh greens edged in dandelions. As he recovered from his ill adventure, an eagle hovered nearby — watching, waiting, and hoping for a bit of moose salad. And this wasn’t the only menacing threat.

The large black bear seen nearby worried us. Wolves and coyote are also in the area. Would any one of them find the babe before his mama did? The single hovering raptor couldn’t take him down alone, but a team could surely do so. As we left, 2 eagles joined the first looming in the branches overhead.

Alaskan black bear on a rock face.
Alaskan Newborn Moose rises from a nap.
Alaskan Newborn Moose looks healthy and alert.

An Uncertain Future

On our second rafting run of the day, while our guests floated down the river, Byrne and I checked on the little fella. He was napping in the soft, filtered light, no longer harassed by eagles. Sensing us, he rose to his feet, blinking with big, bright eyes. His coat had dried to a rich red color. His legs were sturdier. Again, noting his progress, we backed off. 

It had been hours without food or protection for the babe. If mom delivered a twin elsewhere, she might not come back. Those who saw her before we arrived said she looked fairly inexperienced. 

My guiding partner and I called a local rehabilitator. He was on board to monitor the situation. We crossed fingers that mom would find her baby and all  would be right with the world. But backup was ready, if the law allowed.

Caught on Film…

An Ending Filled with Hope

The following day, where the young moose had been, only an indentation in the grass remained. No signs of detritus from distress or struggle. No signs of bear, wolf, coyote or eagle. One can only surmise, and I choose to believe, that he was reunited with his mama.

Cheers, Little Miracle

Given that this brave little warrior learned to walk, swim, take shelter and survive within his very first hour of independence, my greatest hope is that he will live a long, happy and slightly less adventurous life from here on out. 

Alaskan Rainbow

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8 Comments

  1. Joan

    Just beautiful, Kim. Perfect details. 💚

    • Kim Clune

      Wow. You just jogged a memory, Joan. I think I have a descriptive essay from high school with that same comment on top!

  2. Gale Wetzler

    💕 This was amazing, Kim. You have so much talent and heart. 💕
    Love you. Gale.

    • Kim Clune

      Thank you, Gale. Love you, too, girl!! I’m so glad things appear to have turned out for the best. I think we were all on edge those two days!!

  3. Stephanie DeWeese

    Beautiful Kim! I truly hope that he’s back with mom, I’m not sure I could have practiced such restraint.
    We have encamped in my bathroom a baby possum found in a bucket in barn fell off mama , baby birds etc….
    busy spring!
    #renewaloflife
    Well done ❤️

    • Kim Clune

      OMG, Girl!! You have something going at all times! Bobcats, white deer, rabbits. Thank goodness for you!! These animals don’t know how lucky they are!

  4. BETSY

    How discriptive! Fantastic read…I so hope and pray he is frolicking with his twin in the grass somewhere!! Thats my vision!

    • Kim Clune

      I still can’t believe that played out in front of me. And I’m so with you in that vision!