Moving elk calf hurts its survival chances

By Observer editorial June 22, 2010 01:53 pm
It’s hard to find a bad thing to say about compassion, because there isn’t enough of it in the world. Yet there is such a thing as misguided compassion, and sometimes, that’s worse than no compassion at all. As the merry month of May came to a close, with nature busting out all over, a kind-hearted but misguided soul “rescued” a baby elk in the wild and dropped it off at the U.S. Forest Service office on Highway 30 in
La Grande.

Most likely, the baby’s mama left it in tall grass or under a bush and ran away to draw off a predator. Elk are known to do that. If all goes well, the cow returns to the spot she left the calf and resumes motherly duties.

In this case, though, a human intervened in the natural scheme of things. It was an act of kindness, yes, but it didn’t help the calf a bit.

Most likely this person came across the calf, figured it for a poor little orphan, felt sorry for it, scooped it up and brought it in.

Compounding the error, the person left without providing information about how and where the calf, thought to be younger than two weeks, was found. That reduced the chances of a reunion with its mother to zero.

The Forest Service turned the calf over to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists, who in turn released it in an area where there were elk with calves.

That was the best they could do. The calf’s survival chances would have been far better if the biologists had some idea where the mother was.

 It’s a lesson we can all benefit from. The best thing anyone can do when coming across seemingly abandoned elk or deer or other wildlife is to pass on by and let nature take its course.