A British Columbia oil worker says he’s out of a job because he saved a moose calf from a bear while he was driving a company vehicle.
Mark Skage of Fort Nelson said in a detailed post on Facebook that he encountered the calf along the highway — and then noticed a black bear about 50 yards away “just waitin’.”
Skage said the calf kept trying to climb into the truck.
“I couldn’t just leave her there,” he said in the July 4 post. “So I stuck her in the passenger side and drove to town to get her some help.”
Skage said he gave his supervisor a heads up and talked with wildlife conservation services before he found her a place to stay until he could figure out a more permanent spot for the calf. Meanwhile, he started calling her Misty.
“A few days later Misty (that’s what I called her) got a ride to a rehab centre a little farther south where they will let her grow up a bit before releasin’ her back into the wild,” Skage said on Facebook.
But his rescue efforts cost him his job at AFD Petroleum, he said.
AFD Petroleum President Dale Reimer told McClatchy News in an emailed statement on July 17 that Skage was “ultimately terminated due to a series of workplace incidents culminating with this incident.”
“AFD Petroleum has thorough human resources policies and procedures in place, in addition to protocols surrounding interactions with wildlife. Employees are required to undergo training on these policies regardless of previous experience,” Reimer said in the statement.
Reimer said Skage would have known about the policies.
“After carefully reviewing the two-way video footage captured by the employee’s work vehicle, it is clear that the employee was in direct violation of those wildlife policies,” Reimer said.
In a similar statement on Facebook, company officials said they were “aware of a video circulating online depicting the conduct of a former employee toward a wild moose calf.” Company officials said they were “deeply disappointed” that the matter had gotten so much attention from the public.
“We take our obligation to wildlife and to our natural environment extremely seriously,” the post says. “Not only did this former employee put himself and other road users at risk by capturing and transporting an uninjured wild animal in his company vehicle for many hours but he also caused distress and potential harm to the moose, having failed to contact conservation authorities immediately as required.”
Skage had posted several photos of the calf inside his company vehicle and a video of the calf approaching the truck.
“Hey buddy. Where’s mom? Where’d momma go?” he asks as the calf walks up to the truck. “What am I gonna do for you? Where’s mom? You can’t just be out here all by yourself.”
The company found during its investigation that the two-way video from Skage’s company vehicle “shows no evidence of a bear nearby” and seems to show that Skage did not seem to search for the calf’s mother — “his decision to capture the moose calf was made in two minutes or less,” the statement says.
“There is also no other vehicle traffic which could have posed a threat to the animal, which he placed in the front seat of his company vehicle for five hours and drove several hundred kilometers to a friend’s property,” the statement says. “The employee’s conduct demonstrates he understood he was acting inappropriately.”
Ultimately, Skage said he did what he “felt was the right thing.”
“Did I do all the right things. Did I say all the right stuff likely not,” he said “…But I do know that whatever anyone else thinks the calf’s mom was not there. The bear was.”