Facebook, Mark Skage

Man "Saves" Moose Calf From Bear, Loses His Job

Picking up hitchhikers in company vehicles has consequences, especially when those hitchhikers are wild animals.

A Canadian man was fired from his job after saving a moose calf from a potential black bear attack by putting the youngling in his car.

Mark Skage, former employee of AFD Petroleum Inc., was driving back from a job site when he saw the small creature nearly get hit by several cars. He pulled over, sharing that his initial intentions were to scare the moose away from the road so it wouldn't get hit.

But Skage said when he opened the car door and tried to scare it away, the moose calf attempted to climb into his company vehicle. During this encounter, he reported noticing a black bear lurking 50 meters away. Something in him changed, and not seeing the moose's mother anywhere, he made the decision to rescue the calf.

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This wild little hitchhiker joined Skage for a five and a half hour drive, over which time Skage reports he bonded with Misty-the name he affectionately gave his wild roadtrip companion. Skage said he contacted the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service to seek assistance for how to help the calf, and that several days later the small moose was transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

baby moose resting on center console in company vehicle

Facebook, Mark Skage

Skage said he was concerned for the calf's well-being—which is fair enough, considering black bears are the number one predator of moose calves in locations without grizzlies; they are responsible for killing up to 40% of moose calves in some areas, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) reports. Knowing this and not seeing the mother, Skage didn't want to leave her survival to chance.

But the decision did cost him: AFD Petroleum Inc. terminated Skage's employment as a result of his decision to put the moose in a company vehicle and transport it. Movement of wildlife without a permit is illegal, and it also breached the company's wildlife policies.

AFD was skeptical about the circumstances surrounding Skage's claims; they said Skage's company vehicle had a two-way camera and showed no evidence of a bear in the area. The video did not show him looking around for the moose's mother, as he claimed to do. Further, AFD said the recorded bits of his end of the phone conversations he made in the car tell a different tale of the order of phone calls made, and call into question whether he contacted conservation services or not.

The company stated he put himself, other drivers, and the calf at risk, and said he should have contacted conservation and let them handle the situation.

Skage continues to defend his position and decisions, both acknowledging that his actions did not align with AFD's guidelines, but also claiming he did what he felt in his heart was right, and that he did contact the necessary authorities. He reported to Global News, "I believe that in this world, we need to stand up for our values and beliefs, and do what we think is right regardless of the consequences."

Meanwhile, this event has stirred up some emotions on social media, with most people reacting with positivity and encouragement for Skage's actions, even calling him "brave" and a "hero" for attempting to help the calf.

No matter what his reasons were, this highlights the repercussions of not following established guidelines for how to handle wildlife.

Skage made a Facebook post about rescuing the baby moose. Previous news sources report that his post originally concluded "The lesson I learned was AFD is okay spilling fuel on the ground but not helping wildlife," though his post has since been updated and no longer contains that statement.

Skage knew his actions were illegal, and has expressed being willing to pay fines that may come up. He has said he has no regrets for what he's done with the calf, especially after finding out the creature was a female and in the future could produce more little moose calves.

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