New Brunswick

Moose left stranded and starving by New Brunswick flood

Humans aren't the only species suffering from one of New Brunswick's greatest floods.

Highways and bridges are the high ground for moose trying to escape floodwater

Resting on concrete most of the time, two moose have found refuge from floodwater on the closed Trans-Canada Highway near Jemseg. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Humans aren't the only species suffering through New Brunswick's unprecedented flooding. 

Moose throughout the St. John River Valley are stranded and starving on what little dry land they can find as floodwaters remain high. 

Two young moose are stuck on a Trans-Canada highway bridge in Jemseg. 

Perhaps exhausted from escaping the floods, they have been lying on the bridge for days without food. 

For days, these two young moose have stayed on the only high ground they could find in the area — a highway bridge about 50 kilometres east of Fredericton near Jemseg. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"They're pretty weak right now," said Billy Wagstaff, a provincial forest ranger who has been monitoring the animals.

"They've been laying here for a couple of days and they can't really get any feed because they can't get down to browse. There's too much water down there. And they've got no dry ground." 

A provincial forest ranger says the moose are normally browsers and have been reluctant to eat food brought to them on the bridge. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Moose in neighbouring Sheffield have taken to sharing a scrap of land with a family home cut off by flooding.

Three animals have been hugging the sides of Anne Bridges's house, which is surrounded by water. 

"Poor things," Bridges said. "They don't have much land. There's nothing much around for them here at all." 

Bridges said the bull, cow, and juvenile animals were standing in knee-high water for days. 

"They're just looking for anything," she said. "I've got maple trees here and bushes. And they're just looking for things to eat, I guess." 

Bridges, who can only leave her own home by boat, said the three moose have ventured away from the house but have returned several times. 

For days, three moose have stood in knee-high water, hugging the side of Anne Bridges's Sheffield home, which is surrounded by water. (Submitted: Anne Bridges)

Highway herding 

Another stranded moose was able to be herded across the highway bridge to dry forest a few days ago, according to Wagstaff.

But he worries the two remaining moose lack the energy to stand for long periods of time. They would have to be led for about three kilometres over a concrete bridge and highway pavement before they could reach the safety of the woods. 

Forest ranger Bill Wagstaff says he and co-workers have tried to usher the moose across the bridge to dry land, but it appears they are too weak. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

"We tried yesterday," Wagstaff said. "But they wouldn't go anywhere. They just walked along real, real slow and laid right down in front of me." 

"Normally, they'll trot along in front of you."

Last week, the two moose could be seen standing in shallow water, but as the river rose, the animals took to the only dry ground left in the area — the recently closed Trans-Canada Highway. 

Roadway refuge 

The Trans-Canada between Fredericton and Moncton has been closed since last Thursday night. High water brought massive amounts of driftwood and debris, which is being cleaned up as the water recedes. 

Piles of debris and driftwood litter the Trans-Canada Highway at Jemseg. Cleanup crews say it will be days before the highway is reopened, which gives the moose time to move or be moved. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The moose have until the highway reopens to move or be moved before conservation officers go to the last resort, which would be to destroy the animals. 

"Nobody wants that," Wagstaff said. 

Other options 

Wagstaff said it will most likely be a few days before floodwaters go down enough for crews to clean up debris. That would give the stranded moose time. 

"It is an option to try and get some bushes down here and try and feed them, but it probably won't go so well," said Wagstaff, who has been a ranger for 20 years. 

Last week the two moose were surviving in knee-high waters near the bridge. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

"It's hard to feed them. Moose like to browse. They're not feed eaters.

"We could try and tranquillize them, but as they're so weak they could end up dying from that anyway."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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