Hello and welcome to the moose feeding station!
The feeding stations exist to make my job easier. Inside they have a big bag of pellets, a bale of hay, a bucket and scoop, a rake, a shovel, a pitchfork, a broom and a feeding chart.
The moose get 25 lbs of pellets a day as a supplement of vitamins and trace minerals in a form they like. 25 lbs may not sound like a lot for 4 moose, but there are lots of natural foraging opportunities in their habitat. In the wild, moose eat leaves, bark and twigs from trees and shrubs as well as aquatic plants. Our moose also have a bale of hay placed in the trees in the back corner of the 48.5 acre habitat and we give them browse, which are tree branches with lots of leaves. We also get produce from local grocery stores or other community members (things like lettuce and veggies) to feed the moose.
The tools in the feeding station are used to clean the area and also for protection. We never enter the moose habitat when they are nearby. It’s just too easy for something to go wrong, without the moose even meaning to hurt us. So when we feed them we take a tool with us. If the moose decide to come up too close, we can wave the rake and they perceive us as being larger than we are and hopefully they back off. If they are very hungry, and come towards us too close and too fast, we might be forced back into the feeding station. In that case, we can use the scoop to pour the pellets through the slat in the wall into the trough outside.
Each feeding station has a clipboard with a feeding chart. The feeding chart is a place for animal care staff to record information. Every day, we record the number of animals we saw, how much and what kind of food they got, and any comments or observations about the animals. If we ever go a couple days without seeing all the animals in a habitat, we let the veterinarian, Dr. Maria Hallock, know, and she will walk around the perimeter of the habitat to locate the animal or animals and make sure they’re ok.
As an example, there was one time last fall when I was feeding Watson his bottle of formula, with my animal care coworker and we noticed he had a patch of green and red on one of his “knees” and we were concerned he may have hurt himself. We sent a picture to the veterinarian, and tried to think of anything that could have caused the discolouration. We then remembered that we had fed him some produce that had beets, lettuce, and celery and he must have knelt in it, causing the staining on his knee. We all got a little chuckle out of it, and were relieved it was nothing serious.
Read Watson’s original story and then watch the video of Watson taking the first steps to his larger habitat, after his initial rehabilitation.
Animal Care at Yukon Wildlife Preserve involves feeding, cleaning and diligent observations. Thanks for joining me on this tour of the moose feeding station.
Banner photo credit Neil Zeller: Watson gets curious and says hello through the slats in the Animal Feeding station.