Injured Moose

Photograph of an injured cow in a stream
Injured Cow Moose

 

Moose live a difficult life. There are no emergency rooms, though some lucky critters may find their way to a veterinarian if injured and found close enough to civilization and there appears to be some calculated chance that human assistance can be provided. For most moose though, being injured is a serious business. Anything from a simple broken hoof to being hit by an automobile is usually a death sentence for one of these wild beasts. Add to the equation their coexistence with predators, parasites and contact with domestic ungulates, for a moose to survive for more than 10 years in the wild is probably highly unlikely.

Moose have also been known to attack their own. I’ve read that a cow moose will attack her own offspring if it tries to reunite with her while she has a new calf. The mothers chase their calves off when a new one is born. I’ve witnessed this, but the encounter wasn’t so much an attack as it was a series of threatening gestures.

I come across an injured or dead moose about once a year. I found this one this past Monday afternoon. She was hanging out with another cow in a field of willows along a stream near a lake. From viewing this photo at full magnification, it appears that she is blind in her left eye and has obvious signs of trauma to her body. There appears to be a mostly healed scar on her upper left forehead and you can see that her left ear is drooping so the damage to her head must have been quite severe. I can also see some pattern scaring on the left side of her body. There are several patches of fur that show a distinct pattern and these patterns seem more random than one might expect to see if it was struck by a vehicle. Her legs looked to be in good shape, so that tells me it wasn’t an injury that involved a vehicle. The scars are large and long and don’t all run the in same direction. A couple of spots also look to have a triangular appearance at one end of the scar. Her injuries appear to be mostly healed, but it’s obvious they were severe enough to impact her annual development. Her fur is more like you’d find on a cow in mid-May. By this time of year in Colorado, most moose have developed a chocolate two-tone coat. This moose still has a lot of winter fur on her body. This makes me think that she may have been injured earlier this year and laid up in some wooded area recovering.

I don’t know the source of her injury but my best guess is that she was severely stomped by a larger moose or attacked by a black bear.

I don’t know if a one eyed moose will survive long in the wilderness. She looks fairly young and able to move about, but moose have terrible eye sight to begin with. With one drooping ear, I’m sure her hearing as also been affected.

I hope she finds her way in life and can make it. My experience tells me that she probably won’t. For now, she is on her feet and and moving around among the others.

I wish her luck.