- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A Montana man said he was surprised when a newborn moose calf walked right up to him while he was camping, but he was even more shocked to learn that wildlife officials killed the calf after he reported that it had been orphaned.

“It’s just unbelievable to me that that’s how things are handled,” Josh Hohm told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1M4vpIp). “It just sounds incredibly wrong.”

Hohm says the baby moose approached him at West Boulder Campground on Monday. He was initially worried that the animal’s mother was just around the corner, ready to charge. But then he found the bodies of the calf’s mother and sibling, apparently dead from childbirth.

“Clearly I’m not going to leave the little guy there,” he said.

As the moose cried, Hohm stayed with it, holding it and taking a few photos and videos.

When he told local authorities about the incident, he thought they would care for the moose and find it a new home.

But a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks official killed the calf. The U.S. Forest Service then used explosives to destroy the carcasses of all three moose so grizzly bears wouldn’t be attracted to the campground.

“We don’t move or rehabilitate moose,” said FWP spokesman Andrea Jones.

The agency sometimes takes in bears or raptors for rehabilitation, said Jones, but not moose, elk or deer. She said the risk of disease transmission is too high for them to do that.

If they left it in the wild, the outcome would be the same, she said. The young moose would have had no way to get food.

Hohm said he wouldn’t have told authorities about the moose if he knew they would kill it.

“Nobody ever wants to have to deal with putting down a young animal,” said Jones.

But she said it is sometimes necessary.

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Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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