Thunder Bay

'Docile and affectionate moose' cuddles with rescuers on northern Ontario lake

A northern Ontario couple had an unforgettable experience with a moose they discovered trapped and struggling on the ice on Shoal Lake in northwestern Ontario.

"You could sit there and rub her nose and her ears," Barbara Holmstrom says of moose encounter

A moose struggling on the ice at Shoal Lake, Ontario, was distraught at first but then allowed its rescuers to get close and pet it, says Barbara Holmstrom. (Barbara Holmstrom/Facebook)
  A woman from Shoal Lake 39 First Nation in northwestern Ontario says she views animals differently after an experience she had with a moose on Wednesday.

  Barbara Holmstrom said she and a few friends were snowmobiling near the Clytie Bay landing on Shoal Lake when they came across a moose down on the ice.

  "We walked over to her and she tried getting up," said Holmstrom."But she kept falling down. Her back legs were all splayed out."
Barbara Holmstrom and Randy Shoen discovered the moose on Shoal Lake while they were snowmobiling on March 1. (Barbara Holmstrom/Facebook)
  Holmstrom said the moose had fallen and had obviously been trying to get up for some time. She said there was a lot of signs the moose had been struggling and there were many moose droppings.

  Holmstrom said initially the animal was defensive, but that soon changed. 

  "When we first saw her she had her ears right back, and her fur was standing up," Holmstrom said. "Within a half hour she had completely changed her demeanour. She was fine with us. We could pet her anywhere and she would just relax. It was pretty neat."
The moose struggled to get up even with human assistance, Holmstrom says. (Barbara Holmstrom/Facebook)
Holmstrom said they tried to lift the moose up using a tow strap underneath its legs but the animal was unable to stay on its feet. With the help of a few other people they were able to lead the moose to shore where there was more snow and better footing.

Holmstrom said she ended up calling the ministry of natural resources and forestry and two conservation officers came out around 5:30 p.m.

The officers told her they would have normally put the animal down, but due to the scarcity of moose in the area, they agreed to give the moose some time to recover.   

Rescuers were able to help the moose hobble to the shore of Shoal Lake. (Barbara Holmstrom/Facebook)
"They told us to give her some water, and I told them I'd been giving her water out of a water bottle," said Holmstrom. "She was drinking it right from the bottle. We got her some food but she wouldn't eat that. We got her some blankets and spent the whole night with her."

Holmstrom said the moose slept intermittently throughout the night, and was unafraid of her human caretakers. 

  "You could sit there and rub her nose and her ears, and we rubbed her legs and her whole body down and she would just lean on you. It was incredible." 

But when morning came, the moose was still unable to get up.

  Holmstrom said conservation officers came out that day and had to put the cow down. The moose had torn ligaments from struggling on the ice. 
"I think if we had found her the day before, I think we could have saved her," said Holmstrom, who says she will never forget the experience. "I never expected a moose to be so docile and affectionate." 
Holmstrom says she'll never forget the time she spent with the moose she called Annie. (Barbara Holmstrom/Facebook)