Moose Calf Nicknamed “South Branch Suzie” Dies; Had Accumulated Over 1000 Facebook Friends

An orphaned moose calf born last summer in the Rangeley area died Thursday, Jan. 20. Preliminary necropsy results show a high infection rate of lungworm that contributed to the moose’s death.

Lung worm is a parasite that occasionally is found in young moose, according to MDIF&W Mammal Group Leader Walter Jakubas, a wildlife biologist. Lungworms are a type of parasitic roundworm found in the lungs where they lay eggs that hatch into larvae. Larvae are picked up by moose while feeding on vegetation in the wild. Moose with lungworm infections can develop pneumonia that can severely compromise the function of their lungs. There is no risk to humans from lungworm.

The moose calf was named “South Branch Suzie” by Saddleback Mountain ski resort residents who would see her on ski trails, often in the South Branch skiing area, and walking through the community. “South Branch Suzie” also had her own Facebook page with more than 1,070 “friends.”

MDIF&W District Game Warden Reggie Hammond had hoped that the orphaned moose would find and assimilate with other moose living around Saddleback Mountain, but that did not happen.

Remaining in the wild is almost always what’s best for moose and other wildlife. However, after a few weeks of showing a high level of habituation to people at Saddleback, Warden Hammond asked Regional Wildlife Biologists Chuck Hulsey and Bob Cordes to capture the moose and transfer it to a rehabilitation facility to ensure the safety of the moose and the community. She was becoming too accustomed to living near people and one night was almost hit by a trail groomer.

On Dec. 29, 2010, the moose calf was chemically immobilized by the wildlife biologists and with the help of District Game Warden Hammond and volunteers was transported to Second Chance Wildlife, Inc., in New Sharon. The move to the rehabilitation center was the best solution for trying to help the young moose through the winter and prepare her for a return to the wild. She was becoming acclimated to her surroundings and feeding on natural browse. However, she was slightly thin at the time of capture, and likely entered the winter in poor condition, according to MDIF&W wildlife biologists.

On Thursday, the deceased moose was transported from Second Chance Wildlife to the MDIF&W Bangor Research Office for a necropsy by Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, University of Maine Cooperative Extension veterinarian.

January 21, 2011
Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

South Branch Suzie on Facebook