Calgary woman desperate to help 2 sick moose wandering her neighbourhood

·3 min read
According to Holly Lillie, who is with the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, the two moose are likely ill due to ticks. (Submitted by Brittany Lauzon - image credit)
According to Holly Lillie, who is with the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, the two moose are likely ill due to ticks. (Submitted by Brittany Lauzon - image credit)

A Calgary woman is asking the province to change rules that prohibit animal conservation groups from rehabilitating adult ungulates after watching two moose who appear to be in deteriorating health in her neighbourhood.

Brittany Lauzon says she has long enjoyed watching the wildlife that passes through her northwest community of Valley Ridge.

But when a moose and her calf began to look ill, Lauzon reached out for help — and was shocked to learn the province doesn't allow conservation groups to rehabilitate adult ungulates, including deer, elk and moose.

"Their hands are tied … because of the regulations that were put in place for prohibited species in 2010," Lauzon said. "They want to help, but they can't."

Degrading health likely due to ticks

The adult moose has frequented Lauzon's front lawn and the neighbourhood golf course for about five years, she said.

But recently, the moose grew docile, and began to lose fur and shed weight. When the moose had a calf last year, it began to show similar characteristics.

"I couldn't allow it to continue any longer, seeing that she's half her size, can barely hold her head up," Lauzon said.

"And now she has this calf as well, who's taking on the same appearance and degrading health. That's why I decided it was now finally time to reach out and get them some help before it was too late."

When the moose and her calf began to look ill, Lauzon reached out for help. She said she was surprised to learn the province doesn't allow conservation groups to rehabilitate adult ungulates.
When the moose and her calf began to look ill, Lauzon reached out for help. She said she was surprised to learn the province doesn't allow conservation groups to rehabilitate adult ungulates.(Submitted by Brittany Lauzon)

Alberta Justice told CBC News in a statement on Tuesday that due to tick infestations, it is natural to see moose in this condition at this time of the year.

The moose will attempt to scratch away the ticks by rubbing against trees, removing large patches of hair.

Researchers also told CBC New Brunswick in June 2018 that ticks are attracted to moose and can lead to significant blood loss.

If the moose are experiencing an infestation, Alberta Justice said there is little it can do.

"There is no treatment that could help them at this point, but the good news is, with the weather warming up, their chances of survival are good," the statement said.

But Holly Lillie, who is with the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, said if the moose are suffering a tick infestation, it can become serious.

"There's cases where … the tick infestation becomes so bad, it can be very detrimental to the animal," Lillie said.

'They're just left to die at this point'

The government told CBC News that Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers have not received a report of moose experiencing a tick infestation in Calgary.

However, according to Lauzon, Alberta Fish and Wildlife was the first organization she contacted for help. She said she has not heard back.

And according to Lillie, non-profits and conservation groups are not licensed to rehabilitate adult ungulates. Legally, the animals are the jurisdiction of Alberta Environment and Parks.

Lauzon said she is writing a letter to cabinet minister Jason Nixon asking to have the prohibited species list amended to include all species.

"These poor animals — they're just left to die at this point," she said. "It's unfair."