The largest members of the deer family, moose look like friendly uncles of the reindeer. But in fact, they can be quite dangerous. Most people would be intimidated around the 1,000-pound creatures, but not Erikas Plucas. As a farmer, Erikas is used to caring for animals, and those nurturing instincts are exactly what came in handy when he met a baby moose in need. Read on to see how a lifelong friendship developed between moose and man, and even impacted hunting practices in the area.
The Pastoral Life
This is Erikas Plucas, a farmer in Lithuania. Living on a farm next to a forest, Erikas gets to experience the wonders of nature often. Like many countryside residents, he finds solace in the peace that comes with living away from urban areas.
While he may be far from heavily populated cities and metropolitan areas, he has plenty of company. Erikas encounters both his farm animals and wild animals from the forest all the time.
An Unexpected Discovery
One day, Erikas arrived home to discover a baby moose lying near his farm’s gate. Any animal expert knows that seeing a baby animal often means that the mother is nearby, and she could be a threat.
Erikas looked around for the mother, but she was nowhere to be found. It was then that he took a closer look at the helpless calf. He approached it slowly, so as not to frighten it. Upon inspection, Erikas was able to deduce the backstory of this young animal.
Looking For Safety
As Erikas slowly neared the baby moose, he realized she must be no more than two weeks old. “The first sight of her was heartbreaking,” he said. Like any young animal would be, the calf was quite scared of Erikas at first sight.
However, she was too weak to run away. Without her mother, the baby moose didn’t have food or safety. Dirty and riddled with flies, the young animal was clearly in desperate need of help.
As Erikas looked at this weak, young moose, he began piecing together in his mind what could have possibly brought her to such a state. The clearest answer was that the mother of this young calf had been harmed.
He deduced that the baby moose must have witnessed her mother get taken out by hunters. The barely born animal would have instinctively run away in search of solitude. Whether she was too weak to go on or somehow knew that the farm would be a safe place, something had brought her to Erikas’ farm gate for a reason.
Upon finding a wild animal, the first thing that comes to mind is contacting animal services. That’s exactly what Erikas did. While waiting for them to arrive, he took necessary courses of action to keep the calf alive.
He found as many green leaves as he could and offered them to the calf along with some milk. Time was of the essence since she was already in poor condition and animal services wouldn’t be able to arrive until the next day.
Lack Of Support
The young moose took well to the food Erikas offered. Confident that she needed to eat right away in order to survive, Erikas was happy to see that she would likely make it to the morning, after all.
Since he already contacted animal services, the next step was to solicit advice. Erikas contacted friends but was surprised that they all seemed to have the same negative reaction. They encouraged him to “let nature take care of it,” Erikas said.
Committed To Helping Her
Regardless of what anyone said, it was already on Erikas’ heart to save the baby moose. A true nature-loving farmer, it wasn’t in him to simply disregard a helpless creature, especially after bringing her to safety.
The odds of this young calf surviving this far were slim, and he wasn’t going to give up on a miracle. Fortunately, he had a barn that would keep her safe from predators. However, he was met with further indifference the following day when animal services arrived.
There Was Only One Way To Keep Her Safe
The calf’s condition was better by the morning when animal services arrived. However, they came with sad news. Since there wasn’t a service that provided care for orphaned forest animals in Lithuania, they couldn’t offer her help.
Instead, they suggested that Erikas call local hunters and inquire if they would take the female moose off his hands. It became clear that the only way to keep her out of harm’s way would be to raise her himself.
The Start Of A Friendship
Upon asking his friends for advice, many of them stressed their concern that it may be illegal for Erikas to take on the wild moose as his own. He brought this up with animal services, and to his surprise, they assured him that it would be okay for him to keep her.
However, they also warned him that he would be completely responsible for her from then on. Even knowing he wouldn’t receive any help from others, Erikas agreed to take care of the calf.
Afraid Of Everything
It was as though the young moose knew that Erikas was unlike other humans, or at least sensed his willingness to help her. She was petrified of everything except for him.
Physical healing was one thing. However, there was an emotional component that Erikas would have to work with, too. Since she had been scared from an extremely young age, he would need to put in some effort to build her confidence again.
Erikas named the calf Emma and committed to being there for her as long as she needed. This wasn’t an easy task while she was young. She needed to be fed frequently and craved Erikas’ presence constantly.
As soon as he would walk into the house she would cry. So, he began sleeping in the barn just to help Emma feel safe. All of his efforts were not lost on the young moose. She grew to trust Erikas above all else.
She Found Her Comfort Zone
Erikas continued to meet every need of Emma’s, and so she began to trust him and his farm. At last, the baby moose could feel comfortable and safe in her new home.
However, Erikas new that she couldn’t live on a farm forever. He wanted her to have a normal life and knew that meant gradually supporting her reintroduction into the wild. Emma was scared of everything outside of her safe bubble, so getting her back on her own would be a challenge.
While all of Erikas’ love and support, Emma began growing larger. Erikas knew that it was time to start taking her out of her comfort zone. He did this by taking her on walks through the forest.
He hoped that being in nature would help develop her natural instincts. Despite her traumatic experiences, Emma followed Erikas wherever he went. At first, she was hesitant to go back into the forest. However, she trusted the man who raised her.
Teaching Her The Ways Of The Wild
Without a mother to teach her the ways of the wild, Emma was ill-equipped to take care of herself. Fortunately, Erikas knew a fair amount about nature and the forest.
As she was nearly grown, it was imperative to teach Emma all he could before releasing her back into the wild. So, Erikas walked her to safe areas that can food. He did his best to communicate to her where she should and shouldn’t go so that one day she could do it on her own.
Getting Comfortable With The Wild
Gradually, Emma became more and more comfortable with nature. In addition to going for walks, she and Erikas began swimming together in nearby lakes. Sunshine or snow, the pair could be seen spending time outdoors.
As she began to adapt to different outdoor settings, Emma grew increasingly more comfortable and trusting. When it came to humans, however, the only one she was okay with was Erikas. He said, “To me, she is gentle and loving.”
A Gentle Giant
Emma had grown so accustomed to Erikas that she even began watching her strength when she was around him. It was because of him that she was able to grow big and strong, but that also made her a danger.
Erikas was no match to Emma now that she had all of her strength and weighed hundreds of pounds. However, that was never a problem; she was always careful not to hurt the man who had cared for her.
Too Kind To Be Hunted
Emma’s gentleness towards Erikas was something he couldn’t keep to himself. She was proof that moose were emotional creatures capable of caring for not only their own kind but for a human.
Emma was grown and nearly ready to take on life by herself. Erikas couldn’t risk Emma falling victim to the same fate that had taken her mother’s life. He had to do something to ensure Emma’s safety, at the very least for his own peace of mind.
Changing The Mind Of Hunters
He decided to have a few hunters come over so that they could see that Emma was more than a meal. Her intelligence was evident in her ability to contain herself and avoid causing harm. Her love was also apparent in the way she was with Erikas.
Sure enough, the hunters who came over vowed not to inflict harm on the sweet animal. Some of them decided that they would avoid hunting moose altogether, while others decided they were done hunting period.
Leaving For The Day
Thanks to the love and help of her human friend, Emma was gaining confidence. She went from being afraid of the forest, to following Erikas on walks through the forest each day.
Eventually, she began wandering off all by herself. Like a parent, Erikas had to grow accustomed to her absence and trust she would return safely. He knew that the local hunters would stay clear of harming her and that she was strong, but it still worried him.
Learning To Let Go
Erikas’ fear spiked the first night that Emma spent the night in the forest. He recalls that he barely even slept. The very place he had taught Emma to trust was now a source of fear for Erikas.
However, he knew that this was exactly what he’d hoped for and raised her to do. Sure enough, Emma returned after each of her adventures. Safe, grown, and fully independent, she was beginning to live her life in her natural habitat.
She Still Visits Home
Despite being comfortable in the wild, Emma still comes back to Erikas’ farm every day. Now that she doesn’t need him to survive, her love is all the more clear. The only incentive to come back is to enjoy time with the man who raised her.
Erikas could be more proud of the fact that Emma is capable of surviving on her own. At the same time, it’s a great relief every time she does return.
Emma Had A Surprise
Now that Emma has a home in the forest and a place to stay on the farm, it doesn’t seem like things could get any better for her. However, everything changed when Erikas noticed something.
Emma had come home as usual, but something was off about her. Gradually, Erikas could help but realize that she was getting bigger. She was already fully grown, but the animal’s stomach was continuing to swell. That’s when it all clicked.
An Expecting Mother
Erikas isn’t a veterinarian, but he does keep animals on his farm. Seeing pregnant animals was nothing new for him, and he became more and more sure with the passing days that Emma had become pregnant.
Not only was this wonderful news because there would be more sweet moose around, but also because it meant she had made it. Surviving on her own was one thing, but starting a family was a whole new level of success.
Emma had blossomed into the moose she was always meant to be. That still didn’t stop her from coming back every day to visit with the man who made it all possible.
If it weren’t for Erikas, she wouldn’t have survived past a few weeks old. Now, Emma isn’t only fully grown, but gets to live on in her offspring. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that her calf will be extra safe with a confident mother and a supportive human friend.
Another Accidental Encounter
Darius Sasnauskus was living at the top of Yellowstone National Park when he encountered something unusual. He saw a small family of deer. While the nature-lover was used to coming into contact with animals, something set this day apart from the rest.
As he continued watching, he discovered that a fawn was falling behind. It appeared to have an injured leg and couldn’t keep up with its family. Knowing that the baby deer was bound to be caught by a predator, he decided to do something about it.
Meeting The Family
Darius went out and retrieved the fawn, bringing it back home where it could safely heal. Being that Darius is an animal lover, it should come as no surprise that he has a few pets who were curious about the new visitor.
Fortunately, the pets all behaved well together. That allowed Darius to focus all of his attention on getting this fawn back to health. He bought a baby bottle to feed her milk and laid down a t-shirt next to his bed as her resting place.
Sharing His Knowledge
Darius used YouTube as a platform to not only document his experience with the fawn, but to educate others. In one of his videos, he walked the viewer through as he cleaned the baby deer.
Taking on the temporary role of the fawn’s mother, he also had to wake up through the night to feed the fawn. The process was appealing to fans who appreciated his dedication. It also was an example of why wildlife rehabilitation is important.
Helping Her Heal
Darius stabilized the fawn’s hurt leg by creating a splint for her made from an oatmeal box. This enabled her to stand up and walk around again, which aided her confidence and ability to learn.
Though he isn’t an expert, Darius did some research to learn the basics of taking care of a baby deer. At the same time, he took care not to become too attached since he knew she would be on her way once she healed.
Not Ready To Go Back
The fawn’s leg healed quickly and Darius knew she needed to return to the wild and to her family. He took the baby deer outside to play and encouraged her to run free, but she wasn’t ready.
Each time the fawn would run out to the forest, she would return moments later to Darius, the man she’d learned to trust. Flattering as it was, he knew that she needed to learn survival from her mother and that the earlier she returned to the wild the better.
Reunited With Her Family
Two weeks after Darius found the hurt fawn, the day had finally arrived. She was playing outside when she spotted her mother and darted over to return to her family. The fawn remained with her family permanently, but a year later the group all returned to the place Darius had first spotted them.
He released another video to show how much the deer has grown. She no longer could recognize Darius, but that’s a good thing since her attachment to him could have put her in danger. The progress proved that Darius had done the right thing.