Farmer Who Rescues Abandoned Moose Later Discovers an Even Bigger Surprise
| LAST UPDATE 04/30/2023
Moose aren't known to be ideal pets, particularly because of their aggressive nature. However, the story of Erikas Plucas' baby moose rescue shows how wild animals can surprise humans in many ways.
Simple Life on the Farm
Erikas Plucas' daily life on his Lithuanian farm was quite simple and stress-free. After all, only so much can go wrong in an environment filled with so much nature and wildlife - and it suited him perfectly.
Living on a Lithuanian farm was the epitome of tranquility. Although it was far away from the bright lights of a bigger city, Plucas had nothing to complain about. He rather enjoyed living far away, having a life of his own outside of the hustle and bustle. Little did he know, his peaceful life was about to take him by surprise.
A Typical Day
It was just like any ordinary day for Plucas. He carried out his daily routine, and nothing occurred to question. However, when he returned home, something unexpected disrupted his morning. To his surprise, a baby moose was outside the front of his gate. While the moose was stationary, Plucas did not know how to respond.
Considering he lived on the farm, Plucas did not overthink the scenario. Though he had not encountered any situation like this before, he did not think it was too strange that a moose had found himself outside this home. Of course, Plucas approached the baby moose to investigate the situation further.
Taking A Closer Look
Plucas first looked around his home and surroundings to understand whether the baby moose was alone. Like any other animal sighting, the mother of the baby moose could have been nearby or any other animal following behind. Although, no other animal or moose was in sight, and Plucas started to worry.
The calf was abandoned. Plucas tiptoed his way closer to the wild animal but was mindful and cautious of any sudden movement that could occur. With a vast amount of animal knowledge, Plucas established this was a female baby calf that was no more than two weeks old, and with that in mind, he knew something had happened to the mother.
Living on a farm, Plucas was aware of the surrounding hunters that killed the wildlife surrounding him. Though he was conditioned to this type of lifestyle, it was an unpleasant surprise. He was convinced the mother had been shot, leaving the baby to wander on its own, injuring itself on the way to safety.
Plucas spoke to The Dodo, a website with "emotionally and visually compelling, highly sharable animal-related stories." The site's purpose is to make caring about animals "a viral cause." He said, "the first sight of her was heartbreaking." Once he realized her state, he had to act quickly before it was too late.
Plucas to the Rescue
Plucas proceeded to explain his sightings, "She was starved, dirty, sad, and her fur was infested with flies." As any animal would react after escaping near death from a hunter, the baby calf seemed startled and nervous when Plucas approached her. But, he was certain he would carry her back to safety.
Unfortunately, Plucas had to bring her to safety himself, in his arms. The baby calf was too injured and didn't even have the strength to pick herself up to use her own legs. Instead, Plucas carried her into his house. Though he was skeptical about what to do with her, he was more unprepared for what would happen.
Calling Animal Services
As an immediate and obvious response to the situation, Plucas called animal services to see what they could do. To his dismay, they could not arrive at the scene until the following day, meaning Plucas was in charge for the time being. Though under a lot of pressure, he would not let this calf go from his own home.
Living on a farm can come with many perks, including having friends who might have dealt with similar situations. So, Plucas phoned a few friends asking what he should do. However, the negative criticism he received from his friends was just as upsetting as the situation. He was on his own.
The sad reality of farm life is that animals are not regularly cared for like they are as pets in a suburban area. When Plucas called his friends for advice, he was stunned to hear, "it is illegal, you should not do it. Let nature take care of it." But, Plucas clearly had a different kind of heart when it came to wildlife.
Unfortunately, anyone in this situation cannot keep a wildlife animal as a pet or care for it. Instead, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator would take over. Yet, Plucas took matters into his own hands and grabbed some milk to test if the calf would eat as her health was dwindling. He was preparing to cater to the calf's needs all night if he needed to.
On His Own
Plucas felt helpless in the situation. While animal services could not be of any assistance, there was also no service that caters explicitly to abandoned wild animals in Lithuania. Though they suggested that Plucas call a local hunter, he was hesitant.
Considering the reason behind taking the female calf to his home, calling a local hunter was out of the question as this would result in ultimate death. Alternatively, Plucas mentioned keeping the wild animal to Animal Services to evaluate how they would respond to this situation.
Putting a Name to the Moose
Plucas's attempt was a success and was given permission from Animal Services to keep the wild animal he had rescued on his own farm. The decision was in his hands, as he knew from previous events no one was going to help him take care of her.
Plucas's mindset started to change in a positive manner. He realized he had rescued a baby calf and was now preparing to keep her as if she was a pet. He named her Emma, and though complicated at first, his father-like instincts kicked in. This meant having to feed her on a regular basis and being by her side for as long as possible.
A Close Connection
As in any father-daughter relationship, Emma became attached to Plucas. He began to take great care of her, feed her and help her grow as a moose. She became so reliant on Plucas, that she would even begin to cry if he wandered into his own home. As a result, Plucas slept next to Emma near the barn so she would feel safe.
As time went on, Plucas's fatherhood had an impact on Emma's health. She began to show signs of independence and felt a lot safer in her surroundings on the farm. Plucas told The Dodo, "she was afraid of everything but me." With that in mind, Plucas knew he was not going to keep Emma forever.
Into the Wild
As time went on, Emma was growing by the day, which meant that taking care of her became more of a challenge. Plucas knew that she was at a point where he felt she was ready to re-enter her natural habitat. Plucas brought Emma on walks through the forests to warm her up to the situation and trained her to recognize the safest routes.
Naturally, Emma's previous experience had an effect on her that was not going to go away overnight. She knew the forest was a dangerous place and it brought back terrifying memories. While Plucas made her feel safe, it was questionable whether he was ever going to be able to let Emma go out into the wild by herself.
From Calf to Moose
On a positive note, Plucas realized that the more time Emma spent in nature, the more familiar she became with these safe surroundings. She soon realized that the forest was her natural habitat; not Plucas's farm. Plucas was hopeful that she would set off freely eventually.
Nevertheless, like any father, he felt unsteady about Emma going back into the wild as at times she didn't return for hours. He pondered, "I remember those first nights she didn't come home… "Oh, I barely slept. But she grew up, I had to get over it. After all, it was my goal from the very beginning."
A Special Bond
Now that Emma had removed herself from Plucas's farm, she was settling in quite comfortably back into wildlife. However, animals are smarter than we think, and she had not forgotten about Plucas so quickly. Instead, the smart animal had some surprises of her own.
It was clear the two had created a special bond. Emma used her instincts and navigation expertise to visit Plucas on the farm every now and then for a few hours. These visits became a recurring event, so Plucas started to prepare the snacks he knew Emma would enjoy upon her arrival. However, this was not a surprise.
It is unheard of for moose to become friendly companions to humans. But, this case was clearly different. Plucas explained, "to me, she is gentle and loving. She is very careful when we are playing, so she would not hurt me." It was an unexpected and unbreakable bond.
Although Emma had now fully grown and was no longer an unaware baby calf, this did not eliminate the fact that she was living in the wild with hunters on the move. Plucas knew this was the situation and needed to address it before it was too late. After taking care of her for so long, he felt it was in his nature to protect her.
Plan to Safety
The situation was becoming increasingly difficult to resolve. While Plucas was worried about Emma being in the wild, she was too grown to keep her and to take care of her on his farm. Hunters are unpredictable, and Emma could be struck down at any moment, any day.
Plucas was determined to avoid putting Emma in any danger. He decided to befriend and invite local hunters over so they could "see her as not just a nice, warm steak with potatoes and vegetables on the table, but as a very intelligent and loving animal." Though, hunters typically don't warm up to wild animals so quickly.
A Successful Result
Thankfully, the hunters could see the strong connection between Emma and Plucas. After he had explained the caring creature she was, the hunters could see things from a different perspective. The plan had such a high effect that the hunters personally agreed to avoid Emma while others eliminated moose from their hunt altogether.
However, that was not the biggest outcome. The plan had successfully escalated to a point where the hunters had a change of heart and put down their weapons completely. They decided to stop hunting after witnessing Emma's behavior. The news didn't stop there, as Emma walked onto the farm with a bigger surprise.
After Emma continued life in her natural habitat, it became apparent that she became rather busy. Plucas had spent enough time with her to know how she looked, from ears to hooves. One day, Plucas noticed Emma was looking different, rounder, and slightly bigger. It was that moment when it clicked for Plucas that Emma was pregnant!
On one hand, this raised Plucas's spirits, knowing that she was safe and happy in the wild. He acknowledged, "I'm her world now, and she is mine. Sometimes I wonder: was it me who saved her, or is it the other way around?" Still, it is heartwarming to learn that the terrifying incident created a miraculous story in the end.
A Rare Far Sight
If Plucas's interaction with Emma was not interesting enough, then Lithuanian farmer, Darius Sasnauskas, was about to experience another strange encounter. Witnessing wildlife is not uncommon for farmers. However, while Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was at the back of his yard, the visible family of deer took him by surprise.
The situation became rather startling for Sasnauskas. He had noticed that the fawn of the family was not keeping up with the rest, as well as some visible bleeding on its stomach. As an experienced farmer, Sasnauskas knew this indicated the fawn might have just been born and further injured. As a result, the family left him behind.
Small Chance of Survival
An injured baby deer that had been born in the earlier hours of the day had a slight chance of survival. Sasnauskas captured a video of the situation and wrote, "I do not support keeping wild animals as … pets. But this was (a) special situation." He had to bring her to safety from hunters and predators out in the wild.
Similar to Plucas's farmer intuition, Sasnauskas brought the female fawn into his home. He began to take care of her injured leg, which was bleeding, and soon enough, the fawn became naturally comforting in the home. The baby deer even took a liking to the cats and dogs in the house. However, they did not exactly know how to respond.
A Place Called Home
Unfortunately, after an immediate lack of care since birth, the fawn was fairly weak. Like any uncared-for animal, the baby deer craved attention from those around her, including human and other animal contacts. This should have been easy, considering the fawn made herself at home quite quickly.
Sasnauskas made sure she was never left alone or frightened. This included feeding her every few hours to ensure her he was there. As days passed with a huge amount of animal-to-human contact, the pets thankfully started to warm up to the baby fawn. While this started off smooth sailing, it was a bet Sasnauskas had to make with himself.
Becoming a Lifesaver
Like Plucas, Sasnauska's treated the fawn as one of his newborns. This meant sleeping beside her and even providing clothing so she would be comfortable in her temporary home. As a result, she became devoted to the specific shirt she slept on every night. Sasnauska had a lightbulb moment, realizing he had saved a life.
On the other hand, Sasnauskas became increasingly aware of the attachment situation. Although he was devoted to taking care of her, the fawn started to familiarize herself with the family and follow every move. As she was still unable to move like other developed deer, Sasnauskas had to watch her in case of another incident.
Raising a Fawn
As established, deers, and even fawns, are not exactly the ideal pet. Though Sasnauskas might be used to taking care of his cats and dogs, he admitted The Dodo to doing "some Internet search and reading to be able to understand how to (raise) a fawn … get up at night to feed her every four hours, and clean her after."
Sasnauskas started to get creative as he had never taken care of a baby deer. While the deer had a bag leg, Sasnauskas made a temporary splint out of an oatmeal box which helped her to walk. Just like the bond between Plucas and Emma, history was repeating itself, as the baby deer had a miraculous connection with a family member.
A Friendship for Life
The fawn was not the only pet in the Sasnauskas household. Mack, the Bernese Mountain Dog's territory, was the King of the house but started to warm up to the deer. Like any dog that shows love, Mack started to lick the deer endlessly. The strong connection between the two resulted in Mack watching over the deer like one of his own.
Mack started to take over feeding and cleaning roles just to make Darius's life a little easier. Darius trusted his pup, so this new system worked well. Mack would even watch the deer play, ensuring she stayed close to the farm and in sight at all times. It only took a matter of time before the fawn felt much better.
On the Right Track
Although the two never crossed paths, Sasnauskas refrained from naming the baby fawn in case he became too attached, like Plucas and Emma. While he enjoyed seeing the fawn blossom a beautiful friendship with Mack and settle in nicely, he knew she belonged in her natural habitat of the forest.
Sasnauskas noticed there would be a herd of deer that would gather around the area in the evenings. To test out the situation, Sasnauskas wanted the fawn to become familiar with this. She would be set free with the herd if her full strength were to return. He knew he was not the right figure to raise her on his farm.
A Turn of Events
Sasnauskas soon realized the baby fawn had fortunately recovered back to a healthy state. He thought she was ready to re-enter back into the wild. So, he familiarized the fawn with the evening settings, bringing her outside where she would view her family. He hoped she would jump at the opportunity to join them again.
Although, she was not following Sasnauskas because she wanted to go back into the wild and reunite with her family. He became her trusted companion so she would follow him wherever, regardless. The plan did not follow through well, and the fawn returned back to Sasnauskas and Mack, marking her new comfort zone.
Reuniting in the Wild
It had been two weeks since Sasnauskas started to take care of the fawn. Despite the flourishing friendship, Sasnauskas knew that he had to continue the pattern of taking her outside in the night to the forest. This way, the fawn would become less attached to the farmhouse and more familiar with the forest.
In a turn of events, the fawn saw her mother hiding in the bushes and started to leap straight towards her. The thrilling moment took Sasnauskas by surprise but made him sublimely happy to see her feel safe again in the wild forest. Not to mention, he had brought up a baby fawn and feared she would never let go.
Back Into the Wild
It was a bittersweet moment Sasnauskas knew he had to face one day. He had witnessed a surreal moment, setting the deer he fathered free back into the wild. When the fawn returned to its mother, Sasnauskas knew that was the end of their journey, despite never thinking of taking in a forest animal as a pet in the first place.
It was the inner wildlife inside the baby fawn that encouraged her to leave Sasnauskas's side. Although the deer had maintained safe and healthy relationships at the farm, it was almost a sigh of relief to see the deer run back to its original habitat.
Acknowledging the Truth
He further told The DoDo, "I really hoped that she did not get attached to me too much because that would make (it) very hard for her to survive in the wild." Only individuals who had been in this situation with a wild animal would understand the difficulty of a quick change of habitats.
The unfortunate reality was that the fawn was becoming too comfortable around humans and animal contact. Although the fawn spent a lot of time with Mack and Sasnauskas, it was impossible to teach her how to avoid any incoming hunters or even predators. So, surrounding herself with the deer family would be the safest option.
From Forest to Farm
Although Sasnauskas did not think he would ever see the baby fawn again, he did have the pleasure of watching a herd of deers surround the area. He would usually notice a herd wandering around the fence where it was safest to avoid hunters or predators.
Sasnauskas thought the chances of ever spotting his fawn out of the herd were meager. Yet, after months passed from the moment, she was set free, Sasnauskas witnessed a beautiful moment. He recognized the fawn and her family and saw them running together through the forest. It was a proud and satisfactory moment for him.
One Year Later
Sasnauskas documented the entire journey and went viral on social media. He took pictures and captured footage, like teaching others how to feed a deer. A year later, after the rescue, he saw the fawn at 11 months old and recorded her with a video titled, 'Baby deer a year after the rescue and release.' He was applauded for his story.
Although the deer was now too old to recognize him, he raised awareness of the importance of wildlife rescue. He appreciated those who commended him, "I didn't expect this story to become so popular. I am sure that any of us with a little bit of a conscience about our existence, with love for nature and animals, would do the same."