NEWS AND VIEWS – BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: There are a few interesting aspects to this story. Firstly, it’s rather strange because Mark Skage is a hunter based on what I see on his Facebook page. He likes to shoot animals for fun but showed real compassion to a moose calf and it cost him his job.
He is a lorry driver by trade; driving for AFD Petroleum. He has a post on his Facebook page about this story. And it has found its way into the news media including The Times newspaper today. I think his FB post is meant to clear up any inaccurate reporting. The post is at the base of the page.
It has obviously caught the imagination of people and it is difficult to decide whether he’s right or wrong or whether his employer were wrong in sacking him. My honest opinion now is that he was wrong because there were real dangers particularly in driving a lorry cab pulling a load of gas. His employer regarded his actions as gross misconduct as he was fired summarily (instantly).
AFD Petroleum decided that his behaviour was “in grievous conflict with their wild life policies” in his words.
On his Facebook page he says that he was in his lorry on his way back to town when he “encountered a few days old baby cow calf moose alone on the highway and there was a black bear 50 yards away from her just waiting”. He believed that the black bear was about to kill the calf.
He decided he couldn’t leave the calf there so he “stuck her in the passenger side [of his cab] and drove to town to get her some help”.
He said: “I made a decision at the time after she kept trying to climb into the work truck that I couldn’t just leave her there. Her and I kinda bonded on the ride home. I mean, shucks, we had, like, 5 1/2 hours in the pickup truck together.”
He said that he worked with his supervisor and the CO service to get the moose to safety. He eventually got help from the CO (conservation office) service. The big question is what happened in the cab because he had a baby moose in his cab with him and he was driving a lorry with petroleum in the back.
AFD Petroleum said that Skage’s actions breached protocols around interactions with wildlife. They said: “Instead of reporting the situation to a conservation officer and allowing the authorities to handle the rescue and relocation of the moose, the individual may the independent decision to transport an uninjured moose calf, a wild animal, in the front seat of his company vehicle for many hours. This not only put the employee and other road users at risk but also potentially caused distress and harm to the moose.”
AFD Petroleum also disputed Skage’s version of events saying that two-way footage from the truck showed no evidence of a bear nearby. Bears are typical predators of moose calves killing about 40% of them according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Skage’s Facebook page goes into some detail about the events but he doesn’t add a great deal to what we know and what is important, which is that he allowed a large wild animal into his driver’s cab for several hours which was, as AFD states potentially dangerous.
Skage’s does report that he had difficulty with the moose in his cab! And it was quite a struggle to get the moose to the conservation officer. He recalls that he “found food and sanctuary so reloaded her and transported her to said farm.”
He had previously found help at an unnamed farm before he managed to get the conservation officer involved to take the moose off him to allow rehabilitation to take place.
He said that the “CO service was absolutely awesome and it was not only a relief but a real experience seeing that they too had some compassion.”
He believes that he did all the right things. He said that he bonded with the moose who he named Misty. As mentioned, Misty is now at a wildlife rehabilitation center.
What do you think? Did he do the right thing. The peculiarity is that on his Facebook page he has pictures of hunting trips to kill elk, an animal similar to the moose. Canadians are known for their keenness to hunt.