MINIMIZING MORTALITY OF MOOSE NEONATES FROM CAPTURE-INDUCED ABANDONMENT
Keywords:abandonment, Alces americanus, calves, capture-induced abandonment, GPS collars, human-induced abandonment, moose neonates
Neonatal moose (Alces alces) may be prone to maternal abandonment induced by capture activities. We observed unexpectedly high levels of abandonment during the first year of our study of calf survival and cause-specific mortality in northeastern Minnesota. In response, we crafted a capture-induced abandonment contingency plan to reduce calf deaths caused by such abandonment. Locations and movements of dams relative to calves were used to gauge whether abandonment was occurring and to trigger retrieval of live calves. The Minnesota Zoo and a private facility accepted abandoned calves in viable condition. As undesirable as it is to remove calves from the population and landscape, we found it preferable to leaving them to succumb to starvation, hypothermia, or predation. We believe variations of this plan may be used in other study areas to mitigate neonate mortality due to capture-induced abandonment.
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