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Mama Moose Found Dead in Hulen Meadows
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Thursday, February 22, 2024
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY SUE COSSEY

Two moose yearlings are now orphaned after their mother was found dead in a yard in Hulen Meadows.

The cow was found on the north end of Hulen Way Tuesday morning.

Neighbors’ immediate response was to wonder if it had eaten yew, a highly toxic ornamental plant that is illegal in Ketchum and Blaine County. But the cause of death won’t be known until an Idaho Fish and Game officer does a necropsy—an autopsy performed on an animal, said Terry Thompson, communications director for Idaho Fish and Game Magic Valley Region.

“It could be something else—maybe it got sick, maybe it had an injury that led to an infection,” he said. “Moose can also die from malnourishment, although that would be surprising this year. We think animals went into winter in very good shape, as those we checked during hunter stops in October had put on a lot of fat due to all the green vegetation from last spring and summer’s rains.”

The mother and her two young’uns had been spotted in the neighborhood north of Ketchum for the past week. Sue Cossey had just taken pictures of the two calves from her kitchen window before neighbor Paul Ahern told her the bad news about the mother.

“I went down to the kitchen about 7 to put on water for my electric kettle and there were the twin moose right outside the kitchen window,” recounted Cossey, who works at SNRA north of Ketchum. “I took a few pictures and some video of them nibbling on the bushes right outside the window. Soon after, Paul Ahern came over and said, ‘I’ve got some bad news.’ ”

Sherry Werner Steinberg said that the neighborhood is sick about the death as residents had grown attached to the mother and her twins.

"They didn't cause any problems," she said. "Fortunately, we think the twins are old enough that they can survive on their own."

The two youngsters look to be about year and a half old, said Ahern: “They’re pretty big.”

Idaho Fish and Game didn’t have an officer in the area on Tuesday so the department was to dispatch one to do a necropsy Wednesday afternoon to figure out why the moose died, Thompson said.

If it is yew, this would be the first confirmation of an animal dying of yew in the Wood River Valley this year, Thompson said. That said, not every dead animal undergoes an autopsy.

So far, the winter has been easy on animals, thanks to low snowpack and warm temperatures. Idaho Fish and Game has not gotten anywhere close to the reports of mortality of deer and elk in the area that it did last year, Thompson said.

And two young lions who had been frequenting the Warm Springs neighborhood of Ketchum seem to have moved on, as Fish and Game is no longer getting reports of sightings.

If it is determined that the moose died of yew poisoning, Fish and Game will work with Blaine County to canvas the Hulen Meadows neighborhood looking for yew. Both Blaine County and the City of Ketchum have a no-yew law. If yew is detected, it will have to be removed because it is illegal.

Wood River Valley Landscaper Rob Beck has been diligent about removing yew he’s found in an attempt to prevent senseless animal deaths, Thompson said.

Thompson said he does not know how many moose call the Wood River Valley home.

“But there seems to be a healthy population in the Wood River Valley—we’re getting far more reports of moose sightings than in years past,” he added.

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