Confusion has erupted over one man’s attempt to help a wandering moose calf in the Sudbury region.

Sudbury police confirmed to CBC News on Tuesday that a calf was orphaned on Monday after its mother was hit and killed by a vehicle in a residential Copper Cliff neighbourhood.

Wild At Heart animal refuge centre employee Alicia Irwin said she was told on Monday the calf was loaded into someone's truck, and was supposed to be taken to the refuge for care — but the calf never arrived.

Irwin said she was worried about the animal being in shock, and about good intentions going wrong.

“Most of the time, when people have moose calves that they try to care for they give them cow's milk,” she said.

“What happens is they just can't digest it, and it ends up fermenting in their stomach, and it kills them.”

Followed us 'like a little puppy'

It turns out that Irwin and her colleagues at Wild At Heart wound up caring a calf — except the story they heard differed from the one given by police.

Irwin said the calf was brought to the refuge by people who came upon the animal when it wandered out of the bush.

"They thought it was abandoned, but that was probably not the case," Irwin said. "She probably just gave birth and was maybe scared off by the sound of a person coming to the area."

moose calf

A still image from a video recently posted on Facebook. The roughly 60-second video shows a moose calf being taken from a truck and brought outside a Lively Tim Hortons, where it is petted by onlookers. (Shirley Springer Erkila/Facebook)

A video of a moose calf — being taken out of a vehicle and then petted and handled by people — surfaced on Facebook Monday. The video was reportedly taken at a nearby coffee shop in Lively. Irwin said it appears that calf is the same one now in her care.

For a period of time it was thought there were two separate calves — one that was brought to the refuge centre, and one that was still missing.

CBC News spoke with Stephan Michel Desgroseillers, the man who took the calf in, for his side of the story.

'Couldn't figure out what to do'

Desgroseillers said his friends found the moose calf on Sunday, not in Copper Cliff, but on the side of Highway 144 near Dowling, walking into oncoming traffic.

They debated what to do with the calf and, after a little research, called Wild at Heart in Lively to ask for advice.

“The information that they gave my friends was to put her deep back into the bush and leave her be so her mother could find her,” Desgroseillers said.

The couple did just that — six times over the next three hours — but the little calf kept going to the side of the road into traffic.

“It was about 11 p.m. [when] they called me to see if I could give them a hand,” he said.

“I went up there and, after trying to get her back to where she belonged, she kept following us like a little puppy.”

Desgroseillers said they decided to bring her back to Sudbury and contact someone for help, but couldn't get in touch with anyone.

“I couldn't figure out what to do,” he said. “I was pulled over by the police at this time, and they tried to help me out and contact the people. They couldn't get a hold of anybody.  Police basically told me, ‘Steph, you have a pet until you can get a hold of the proper people to take care of the calf.'"

When Desgroseillers brought her home, “I realized she needed to be close to her mom.  She followed me everywhere. As soon as I got three feet from her, she started whining and complaining.”

When it was time for Desgroseillers to go to bed “I had to bring her with me and let her sleep in bed.  It was comforting to her.”

The following day he brought her to the refuge centre, but first “stopped at Tim Hortons … to have a bite to eat and a coffee.”

Stephan Desgroseillers and baby moose

Sudbury resident Stephan Desgroseillers said he "felt blessed to be in the presence of such a beautiful animal." The calf is now staying at the Wild at Heart Refuge Centre in Lively. (Supplied by Stephan Michel Desgroseillers)

The baby moose “was very comfortable with people. She would go and see everyone and be comfortable. After that I went straight to the wildlife refuge.”

Differing opinions

But not before a video was taken and posted to Facebook.

Desgroseillers’ actions have received some mixed reviews since the video was posted on the social media website.

“Everyone has a different opinion,” he said. “Some think it was a bad thing to do that.”

In hindsight, Desgroseillers said “it probably wasn't the best decision to show people like that, but at the same token, I felt I should show it to other people because it was a once in a lifetime event ... so they took pictures and love the fact that we were trying to care for her and bring her in.”

The refuge centre's Irwin said it’s currently moose calving season in northern Ontario. Irwin said it's not uncommon for calves to be orphaned each year after their mothers are killed in collisions with vehicles. She also said Wild At Heart recommends leaving moose calves alone until it can be determined whether they need help.

Listen to CBC Sudbury’s Morning North program on Wednesday for more on this story. CBC News continues to follow this story online.

Clarifications

  • Several clarifications have been made to this story since it was first published to reflect new information received by CBC News.
    May 21, 2014 7:32 AM ET